Pope Lands in Kenya, Uganda Friday in First Africa Visit
Pope Francis arrived in Kenya on Wednesday with blessings from God and a message of peace for people in the country.
The Pope was welcomed to Kenya by President Uhuru Kenyatta at Nairobi’s international airport. When asked if he was concerned about his safety during the trip, he responded in typically good form: “I’m more worried about the mosquitoes,” he said.
The Pope’s six-day trip through Africa will see him arrive in Uganda on Friday, before he ventures into the Central African Republic, which is riddled by fighting between Christians and Muslims.
Messages to the public, Kenyan leaders
Among his first words on Kenyan soil, the Pope was quick to praise the natural beauty Kenya has been blessed with – but urged the people and their leaders to preserve their wonderful environment.
“The Kenyan people have a strong appreciation of these God-given treasures and are known for a culture of conservation, which does you honour,” he said. “We have a responsibility to pass on the beauty of nature in its integrity to future generations.”
The pope also expressed his excitement at meeting the country’s youth, proclaiming them as Kenya’s “most valuable asset” in a “young and vibrant nation”.
Talking points around the Pope’s visit
With security concerns high on the list of talking points surrounding the Pope’s visit, Muslim leaders have praised the Bishop of Rome for his humanitarian approach. Conflict between Christians and Muslims are a serious problem in parts of East Africa, and beyond, but the Pope has focused on discussing ways in which different religions can work together in the name of peace and humanity.
Another major talking point ahead of the Pope’s arrival in Uganda is whether he will take a stance on homosexuality. Gay rights activists on the country have publically stated their desire for the Pope to speak about the rights of homosexuals – a pressing issue in Uganda.
However, a more conservative issue still hangs over the state of sexuality in Africa: the use of condoms as a form of contraception against AIDS. So far there has been no statement on whether the Pope will talk about either issue during his visit to Africa.