By: BERNARD NAMUNANE
Pope Francis was not bothered by tales about incidents of insecurity in Kenya, while aboard his flight to Nairobi on Wednesday.
No. It was the small insects, very irksome to those in the West but which millions of Kenyans have learnt to live with – mosquitoes.
Almost one hour and 50 minutes into his flight from the Leonardo Da Vinci Fiumicino Airport in Rome to start his five-day African tour, his many aides and handlers gave a signal that His Holiness was about to venture into the zone occupied by almost 70 journalists flying with the Pontiff to Nairobi.
Two minutes later, he was standing next to his spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, waving to the journalists.
After brief remarks by Fr Lombardi, Pope Francis begun by expressing his joy about the trip he was making to Africa, with Kenya as the first stop.
“I greet all of you and I am grateful for your presence and your work on this trip. I am happy I am going to meet many friends in Kenya, Uganda and Central Africa Republic,” he said in Italian.
He went on: “I want to wish all of you on this trip and also this trip both spiritual and material blessings. I now want to greet every one of you.”
As Pope Francis started shaking each journalist’s hand and blessing him or her, one member of the Western media asked him whether he was not concerned about his security during his African tour, given that some countries like Kenya have reported numerous incidents of terror attacks.
AFRAID OF MOSQUITOES
Journalist: “Your Holiness, are you not worried about insecurity where you are going because there are people who are targeting Christians?”
Pope Francis: “There are bad people and there are good people. I am only worried about mosquitoes. Have you carried mosquito repellants?”
It was a typical reply from Pope Francis, whose reign at the Vatican has focused on the youth, the vulnerable and climatic change.
What he meant is that whereas majority of people are concerned with what they term as the biggest challenges that humanity faces, there were other small, almost forgotten threats that humanity neglects but end up having fatal consequences on the world.
NEAR THE VATICAN
For instance, Fr Lombardi said that early yesterday morning, Pope Francis met a group of women from Italy, Ukraine, Romania and Nigeria who have been given refugee in a religious house near the Vatican.
They are victims of domestic violence, prostitution and human slavery.
“He let them know that he is close to all people who suffer from all forms of violence and will be with them on their way to recovery,” he said.
Before embarking on the trip to Kenya, Fr Lombardi said Pope Francis took time to prepare himself spiritually for the rigours of the tour.
He held personal prayers at St Maria La Maggiore Basilica in Rome where he routinely dedicates himself for his service to humanity before going on a trip.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION