Colourful State reception for Pope Francis at State House


Jubilation engulfed State House, Nairobi, Wednesday evening as Pope Francis started his tour of the country with a meeting with leaders and a live television address to the nation.

President Kenyatta led hundreds of dignitaries including former Presidents Mwai Kibaki and Daniel arap Moi to receive the Pope at State House.

Deputy President William Ruto, Chief of Defence Forces Samson Mwathethe together with Service Commanders, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett and Cabinet Secretaries were present at the colourful reception.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta was by the President’s side as he received the Pope on arrival from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta and DP’s spouse Rachel Ruto were among the dignitaries who included members of the diplomatic corps, clergy and other invited guests at the reception held at State House Gardens.

Also at the reception were the Speakers of Parliament, Judges, Governors, Senators, MPs, private sector leaders, student leaders among others.

After the initial reception that involved a guard of honour complete with a 21 gun salute, the Pope held a bilateral meeting with President Kenyatta before joining Kenyan leaders and diplomats waiting at the State House Gardens.

During his address, Pope Francis, who will be in the country until Friday for the first leg of his apostolic journey to Africa, praised Kenya’s role in the region and urged Kenyans to uphold integrity as President Uhuru Kenyatta asked him to pray for the nation to progress.

The Pope urged Kenyans to renew their relations with each other and also with nature for the society to progress.

“There can be no renewal of the relationship with nature without a renewal of relationships between humanity,” said the Pope, who is has become renowned for his passion for the environment.

Pope Francis encouraged the Kenyan leadership to continue working with integrity and to show concern for the needs of the poor, adding that leaders are the custodians of the values of the nation.

He said challenges facing today’s society like violent crimes feed off mistrust, poverty and desperation and there is need for forgiveness, reconciliation and equality. “Pursuit of the common good must be the primary goal,” he said.

Pope Francis said Kenya is a young nation that has played a significant role in the region. He said Kenya is also a nation of young people who hold a big promise for the future of the country.

“I want to meet and talk with the young people of Kenya to encourage their hope and aspiration. The youth are the most valuable resource,” he said.

President Kenyatta, who spoke before the Pope, requested him to pray for him as he leads the fight for integrity at all levels of the Kenyan society.

“Pray for me as I lead Kenyans in fighting corruption and pray for this country. God will hear us and heal this nation,” said President Kenyatta.

The President said he was committed in fighting corruption, which is a challenge facing all societies.

“We want to combat corruption and our society is united,” said the President, adding that the civil society and media have also taken a stand against graft.

The President said religious leaders in the country have also risen to the occasion and will play their rightful role in combating corruption.

“Religious leaders have risen to the occasion and are playing their role. Your presence here today galvanizes those efforts,” said the President.

The Pope thanked the President and Kenyans for the warm welcome he was accorded.


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