Pope urges Kenyans to work for peace during Africa visit

Pope Francis urged Kenyans to work for peace, forgiveness after arriving in Kenya as first part of Africa tour

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (R) gives a thumbs up to Pope Francis at the State House of Nairobi on November 25, 2015

Pope Francis has urged Kenyans to work for peace and forgiveness in order to alleviate ethnic, religious and economic divisions, at the state House in Nairobi on Wednesday. 

Pope Francis was welcomed at Nairobi's airport on Wednesday by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, some religious figures and a group of traditional dancers, at the beginning of his first African tour, in where he will also visit Uganda and the Central African Republic (CAR).

After arriving in Kenya, in his short speech to the country's President Kenyatta and the diplomatic corps at the State House in Nairobi, the Pope advised world leaders to pursue responsible economic development and to take care of the environment for future generations.

He said, "Experience shows that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust and the despair born of poverty and frustration."

"Ultimately, the struggle against these enemies of peace must be carried on by men and women who fearlessly believe in, and bear honest witness to, the great spiritual and political values which inspired the birth of the nation."

Kenya has been targeted by Somalia's Al-Shabab in the past two years. In April, the group claimed responsibility for a massacre at the mainly Christian Garissa University College that left at least 150 people dead. In 2013, 67 people were killed by Al-Shabab militants in an attack on a Nairobi shopping mall.

The ​Pope is calling for peace and reconciliation in Africa, but is also emphasising the fight against poverty, protecting the environment, encouraging good governance and the struggle against corruption.

On the other hand, the Pope urged Kenya's political, social and economic leaders to work for a clear reference of Kenya's poor record on corruption.

"I ask you in particular to show genuine concern for the needs of the poor, the aspirations of the young, and a just distribution of the natural and human resources with which the Creator has blessed your country," the Pope said.

On Thursday morning the Pope held a public mass on the campus of the University of Nairobi, then he had a meeting with priests and religious leaders at 3.45 pm in local time. Pope Francis will visit the United Nations Office in Nairobi and is expected to give a speech.

After visiting Nairobi's large Kangemi slum on Friday, Francis will head to Uganda where he will pray at a shrine of the country's martyrs and celebrate a mass.

In the last step of his Africa tour, Pope Francis will visit the Central African Republic (CAR) which has been suffering from a religious conflict.

Since December 2013, the country has been engulfed by violence after the mainly Muslim Seleka opposition group overthrew the ruling president and took control of the country.

Armed Christian group known as Anti-Balaka financed by former president Francois Bouzize, began to engage in mass killings of Muslims and destroyed their holy places including mosques.

In March 2015, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power said, ''Almost all of the 436 mosques in the Central African Republic have been destroyed by months of vicious fighting between Christians and Muslims.''

As a result of the conflict, nearly 1 million of the country’s 4.5 million residents have been displaced.

TRTWorld and agencies