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It’s official: Pope to visit Kenya in November

It is now official: Pope Francis will visit Kenya in November. State House on Saturday confirmed the Vatican had officially reached out to the Kenya government and agreed on a papal visit at the end of the year.

However, the two governments were working on the specific dates of the visit.

“We can confirm that the Vatican has formally contacted the government about a visit to Kenya in November. The government has responded in the affirmative and we now look to finalise plans and then an announcement of the dates will follow. We look forward to this historic visit by the Holy Father,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta’s spokesman Manoah Esipisu.

The visit will follow that of Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in mid-next month, and President Barack Obama’s in July.

“The visit by the Pope also shows the focus by the global community on Kenya as the gateway to Africa. Later in the year, we will also host the World Trade Organisation ministerial meetings here, and believe we have a strong chance to hold the first TICAD summit outside of Japan in Nairobi in the first quarter of next year,” said Mr Esipisu.

TOUR OF AFRICA

Last week, the Pope had hinted that he may visit Kenya this year during his maiden tour of Africa. He will also visit Uganda and the war-ravaged Central African Republic.

The Pope’s visit involves high-level security arrangements and other logistics due to large crowds that gather to see him and the potential threat to his life.

The official vehicle of the Head of the Catholic Church, known as the Popemobile, has for decades been covered in bullet-proof glass during his tours, but Pope Francis has not been keen to hide behind that shield in order to get close to his flock.

In April, Pope Francis mentioned Kenya during his Easter prayers after Al-Shabaab terrorists killed 148 people, almost all of them students, in an attack at Garissa University College.

“May constant prayer rise up from all people of goodwill for those who lost their lives – I think in particular of the young people who were killed last Thursday (April 2) at Garissa University College in Kenya – for all who have been kidnapped, and for those forced to abandon their homes and their dear ones,” said the 78-year-old, who condemned the persecution of Christians in Africa and the Middle East.