Grand reception for Pope Francis at State House


State House has prepared a grand reception for Pope Francis, who has arrived in Kenya for the start of his first visit to Africa.

The main reception will take place at a large dome tent set up on the lawns at the residence in Milimani, Nairobi, that is the state home of the President and his office.

At the front of the tent is the seat he will occupy, with that of President Kenyatta beside him.

While the Pope is expected to meet ordinary people, with a planned visit to Kangemi and a meeting with the youth at Kasarani, his first encounter will be the ruling class and the high and mighty of Kenyan society.

Retired presidents Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki, Deputy President William Ruto and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta will occupy seats at the front opposite the Pope and President Kenyatta.

On their left are reserved seats for Speakers Justin Muturi and Ekwee Ethuro and their wives. Others in the front row are Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, former Vice Presidents Moody Awori and Musalia Mudavadi, Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula, Cord co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka and Cord leader Raila Odinga and his wife Ida.

Supreme Court Judges, envoys, MPs, High Court judges and heads of constitutional commissions are among those with reserved seating.

Pope Francis is scheduled to inspect a guard of honours at State House before going to meet President Kenyatta and some invited guests and then make an address to the nation at State House.

Guests have started arriving at State House and have been invited to “high tea” in the catering tents set up on the lawns.

The Pope is scheduled to celebrate mass at the University of Nairobi grounds on Thursday morning.