Pope Francis arrived in Nairobi yesterday with a message of modesty and peace.
The pontiff stunned onlookers by getting into a modest gray Honda and driving through the city with the windows rolled down.
“The Honda car that the pope is using. Even an MP of the poorest slum in Kenya would not use it,” tweeted an onlooker.
With the recent terror attacks in Paris, Tunisia, Mali, Nigeria and Egypt still present in our minds, the humble Catholic leader expressed an urgent need for just distribution of resources, peace and the environment.
“As we fight this war, recent events around the world have indeed taught us that we must do even more to bring unity and understanding between faiths, between ethnicities, between races but also between nations,” he said in a televised speech.
Francis went on to assert that poverty is a leading cause of terrorism, violence and war.
“All men and women of goodwill are called to work for reconciliation and peace, forgiveness and healing,” he said. “Experience shows that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust and the despair born of poverty and frustration.”
While security measures are high, the pope is expected to bring over one million Kenyans into the streets over the next few days. He will deliver a speech at Nairobi’s UN Environment Headquarters today and then visit Kangemi on Friday before traveling on to Uganda.
“Unlike the visit by President Barack Obama when the government encouraged Kenyans to stay home, we are encouraging Kenyans to flock into the city in their numbers to cheer the pope and celebrate Mass with him,” government spokesperson Manoah Esipisu told reporters ahead of Francis’ visit.
Despite his much-anticipated visit, the pope might meet some opposition when he arrives in Uganda later this week. Politicians there have time and again attempted to impose the death penalty for homosexuality and while Francis says the church deems homosexuality “sinful” he also believes that he is not to judge love.
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” he famously said in 2013.