By: FRANCIS MUROKI
Kenyans have a reason to celebrate … Pope Francis finally arrives in the country Wednesday for the fourth visit to Kenya by a Pontiff.
Police have announced that key roads in Nairobi will remain closed to traffic to ensure security during the papal visit, the first by Pope Francis since he ascended to the seat in 2013.
Papal visits are characterised by great expectations.
When John Paul visited Kenya 35 years ago, many hoped that he would challenge President Daniel arap Moi’s administration to implement policies that would help the needy.
One of the expectations on the eve of Pope Francis’ visit is that he will challenge and encourage Kenyans to face and resolve the question of negative ethnicity.
It is interesting that two days before his arrival, the Holy Father sent a video message to Kenyans, stating national reconciliation would be one of the issues he will address.
According to an opinion poll published on Sunday by Infotrak Research and Consulting, Kenyans want the Pope to address the question of peaceful co-existence, good governance, tribalism and human rights.
They also want him to raise the issue of corruption when he meets political leaders.
The Pope is expected to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House on Wednesday evening.
Respondents also said that when he meets religious leaders on Thursday morning, he should talk about peaceful co-existence (49 per cent), exercising leadership (39 per cent), immorality (14.3 per cent) and social justice (11.3 per cent).
According to the survey, since Pope Francis was elected into office, 79 per cent of respondents indicated that they had become more inclined to giving more importance to their families and treating others with kindness.
The Pope also seems to have had a positive influence on prayer as 74 per cent indicated that they have been praying more regularly since the Pope’s election.
According to the National Steering Committee in charge of the Pope’s visit, all priests and other clergy attending Thursday Mass will be required to dress formally in vestments prescribed for the event.
The congregation has also been urged to care for the environment before, during and after the mass.
Clerics have been directed to park their vehicles at the Consolata Shrine and walk to the venue of the mass that will begin at 10am.
People who have difficulties walking will be taken to the venue in special shuttles but they have to obtain clearance in advance.
Due to the large number of people expected to attend, no vehicles will be allowed into the city centre, or anywhere near the venue of the Mass. Only special and emergency vehicles will be allowed in the proximity of the venue.
All people entering the University of Nairobi’s Graduation Square — where the Mass will be celebrated — must have the special cards and badges that have been issued by the Steering Committee.
his applies even to the priests and religious leaders.
Meanwhile, Kangemi, where the Pope is expected to visit on Friday, has undergone a facelift in readiness for the reception.
The Pope will celebrate his second Mass at the Kangemi Catholic Parish.
Area MCA Peter Isuha said the visit was the catalyst they wanted for the largely slum area to get development.
“We had presented proposals for our people for many years and the Pope’s visit was the push we wanted,” he said, noting that roads were being repaired and security had also improved after street lights were installed.