2015-11-25 08:00:00

Pope Francis en route to Kenya

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has departed from Rome's Fiumicino Airport amid tight security and is scheduled to arrive in Kenya on Wednesday afternoon at the beginning of his six-day Apostolic Visit to three African Nations.

Linda Bordoni is in Nairobi awaiting the Pope and sent us this report:

Day one of Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to Kenya begins at five pm Nairobi time on Wednesday when he touches down at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – named after Kenya’s first President, the much beloved and respected  founding father of the Kenyan nation.

Kenya’s current President – Uhuru (which by the way means “freedom” in Swahili) and is Jomo Kenyatta’s son – will be on the tarmac to meet the Pope together with Nairobi archbishop, Cardinal John Njue, the President of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and a small group of faithful who will sing and dance for the Pope as he sets foot for the very first time on African soil.

“Karibu Papa” they will sing to him in Swahili, “Karibu in Kenya” say the posters lining the Papal route, “Karibu” is the word on the lips of all the Kenyans I have met since being here, and it means: “Welcome!”

And after the short welcome ceremony at the airport Pope Francis will travel straight to the State House, where again, he will be welcomed with full military honours and the twenty one gun salute.

Here he is scheduled to pay the protocol courtesy visit to the President of the Republic  and at the end of a private colloquium he will greet the President’s family, sign the Golden Book and present a gift to his host: a precious print from the Vatican archives.

Here he will also address political authorities and members of the diplomatic corps in English – one of  the only  two English discourses he is scheduled to pronounce as he makes his way through this busy six-day journey taking him to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

Straight afterwards Pope Francis will be whisked off for a restorative night’s rest  at Nairobi’s Apostolic Nunciature.

He will have to gather much strength and energy indeed as hopes and expectations are high here in Kenya as the deeply religious people not only would like him to address questions of peaceful co-existence, good governance, tribalism and human rights, but want – and need – to hear the Catholic message of peace, reconciliation, tolerance, solidarity and mercy straight from the lips of the bishop of Rome.

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