, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 25 – It has been a countdown of months, days, hours and now Pope Francis is officially in Kenya.
The Pope arrived aboard an Alitalia flight christened Shepherd 1 and was warmly received by President Uhuru Kenyatta who later introduced him to the rest of senior government dignitaries and Catholic Bishops.
This marks the genesis of the Pope’s 3-day Africa tour that will also take him to Uganda and the conflict-wracked Central African Republic.
The Alitalia flight carrying the Pope from the Vatican City in Rome touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 4.30 PM.
The Pope then walked down the air stair, wearing his usual smile and interesting enough, he was fast.
A number of choirs and singing groups were also there to receive him and other traditional dancers to show the diversity of the country the Pope will spend three days in.
As expected, nothing was left to chance as the Pope, the President and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta were sandwiched between tough looking security personnel, Kenyan and the official Pope’s security, the Swiss Guard.
The Pope thereafter headed to State House for a state reception and meeting with the Head of State.
More than 2,000 dignitaries invited for the Pope’s State reception are already at State House waiting for the Pope.
Those invited to State House include former Presidents Mwai Kibaki and Daniel Moi, CORD leader Raila Odinga, all the Cabinet Secretaries, Governors, MPs, Senators, Business leaders, more than 1000 church leaders from across the country among others.
Hundreds of Kenyans were also lining up on Mombasa Road to see Pope Francis despite the heavy security presence.