Pope Francis To Start Three-Nation African Tour With Kenya

Pope Francis To Start Three-Nation African Tour With Kenya

Pope Francis is to start his three-nation African Tour with a visit in Kenya.

The visit which will be his first in the continent as pontiff will witness thousands lining up the streets of the capital, Nairobi, to welcome him for his three-day stay.

A leading Muslim cleric in Kenya welcomed the visit, saying it gave hope to the "downtrodden in the slums".

After his vist in Kenya, Pope Francis is also due to visit Uganda and Central African Republic, which has been hit by Christian-Muslim conflict.

The BBC in Nairobi reports that there is huge excitement around the visit with most newspapers giving various reports about the Popo’s visit. One of Kenya's main newspapers, The Standard, welcomes him with headlines in Latin, Grata Franciscus Pontifex, and the regional Swahili language, Karibu Papa Francis.

The Pope - who is likely to travel in an open-topped vehicle is expected to tackle corruption, poverty and religious conflict during his visit, which will start with a meeting with President Kenyatta.

Abdallam Kwamana, the vice-chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, said he would attend an inter-faith meeting the pontiff is hosting on Thursday.

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He described the visit as highly significant, and welcomed the Pope's decision to include a shantytown in his itinerary.

"It is often said that Kenya is owned by the rich and powerful. The people in the slums are never recognised," Mr Kwamana told the BBC's Newsday programme.

Pope Francis is due to hold a mass on Thursday at the University of Nairobi sports ground, where a crowd of more than one million is expected, Kenya's private Daily Nation newspaper reports however, the tiny Atheists in Kenya group  is opposed to the decision to declare Thursday a public holiday and  a day of prayer. They hold the view that it is unconstitutional.

The BBC reports that one in six of the world's Catholics are in Africa and about 30% of Kenyans, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, are baptised Catholics.

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