Kenya gets ready for Pope Francis’ first trip to Africa


Pope Francis arrives in Nairobi on Wednesday for a three-day visit, his first to the country since he took over from Pope Benedict XVI.

The Pope, who will arrive at 5pm on Wednesday, will head straight to State House for a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who will become Kenya’s second President to host a Pope after President Daniel arap Moi hosted Pope John Paul II in 1980, 1985 and 1995.

It is also expected that the Pope will meet members of the diplomatic corps at the same venue.

According to a statement released by Waumini Communications, the communications arm of the Catholic Church in Kenya, Pope Francis will spend Thursday morning holding inter-religious meetings with various religious leaders after which he will preside over a mass at the University of Nairobi grounds.

Some 200,000 people drawn from parishes across the country will be accommodated at the university grounds.

Everyone else will be at Uhuru Park and Central Park where they will watch the proceedings via live streaming.

The pope will then proceed to meet with priests, nuns, seminarians and other Catholic clergy at St Mary’s School in Nairobi. His last meeting of the day will be with United Nations employees at the United Nations headquarters in Gigiri.

On Friday morning, Pope Francis will visit Kangemi slums, also in Nairobi, before heading to Kasarani Stadium to meet young people from across the country. He will wind up his tour in the afternoon in discussions with bishops from across the country.

According to Father Stephen Okello, the national coordinator in charge of the papal visit, the Pope will be expected to discuss issues of national cohesion and integration. He will also be expected to address terrorism as well as youth unemployment.

“We hope that the Pope will speak about terrorism to console us in the wake of the terrible attacks that have befallen us recently,” said Father Okello. “We also expect that Pope Francis will say something about the environment and global warming, since those are subjects particularly close to his heart.”

The pontiff is then expected to depart for Uganda at 3.30pm the same day before departing again for the Central African Republic on Sunday, November 29. He will fly out of the Central Africa Republic the next day.

This will be Pope Francis’s first visit to Africa since his inauguration in March 2013.