, NAIROBI, Kenya, March 24 – On any other day, Johnson Kyalo would be traversing the road between Murang’a and Nairobi in order to earn his wage as a matatu tout. This Sunday however, he waits outside the Holy Family Basilica, palm fronds in hand.
It’ Palm Sunday and Kenyans have joined Christian faithful world over in marking the day theologians say Jesus Christ, on whom the Christian faith is based, made a celebrated entry into Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago as a Prince of Peace.
“The bigger bunch goes for Sh50 and the smaller for Sh30,” he told Capital FM News, “Today I’ll make more money selling these palm leaves to those going to Church than I will on the road (as a matatu driver).”
According to the Gospels of the Bible, as Christ made his entry into Jerusalem on a colt, the residents laid out their clothes and palm fronds on his path, a symbol of great honour and thus the adoption of Palm Sunday.
In the same way, the significance of Palm Sunday for Kyalo goes beyond the monetary gains he’ll make, “I’m a Christian and it’s a day that symbolises peace to me.”
Alex Asunta is one of the Catholic faithful who purchased a palm frond from someone like Kyalo and like him, believes this Palm Sunday brings with it the message of peace.
“It’s a Jubilee year so it has a lot of meaning to me and it’s a year of peace and faith. We believed the election would be peaceful and God granted our prayers so it’s a very significant Palm Sunday.”
Alphonse Lumosi is one of the Police officers whose duty it was to ensure the March 4 General Election went peacefully and as he waits outside the basilica for the next service, he tells this reporter that Palm Sunday for him is a time to renew his faith.
“It reminds me of the coming of Jesus into Jerusalem. As a Christian it refreshes my faith and at the same time empowers me to become a better follower of Christ.”
Julius Musoga like Asunta is a civil servant and as in Lumosi’s case, Palm Sunday for him is a time to reflect on how to be a better practicing Christian, “for this year it reminds me of where I am and for all the time I have been coming to church and fellowshipping. It causes me to ask the question, has it changed me, am I better Christian for it?”
The significance of Palm Sunday for Patrick Wabukala goes beyond the audit of self to an examination of the relationship one has with others, “We should always step back and examine our lives; whether it’s adding value to the total society.”
Erastus Ngugi takes it a step further and says for him Palm Sunday is not only about reflecting on the past but taking heart, whatever the future presents, “following his triumphant entry into Jerusalem Christ went on to be crucified so I believe we should use it as an example of strength, courage and hope.”
Catholics now enter the Holy Week which will conclude the 40 weekday Lent period of self-denial in preparation for Easter celebrations which begin on Friday marking the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.