, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 27 – The savoury aroma of chapati and mandazi along the road leading to Kangemi early Friday morning made everything look normal on a day when Pope Francis was visiting a church in the area.
As early as 5am, huge crowds of people were walking fast and away from where the Pope would be visiting.
Though the residents were expectantly waiting to host the pope, most of them identified the visit as a business opportunity.
For others, they could not afford not to report to their places of work. Most of the small business people increased their stocks targeting visitors in the area.
“We woke very early to prepare. We are hoping that by the time he passes through here he will find when mandazi is and chapattis and all other foods are ready,” Dickson Mogaka told Capital FM News.
“We hope once he (the Pope) leaves the church he will also stop here we see him.”
Isaac said it was a normal working day for him. He had to work to earn something to help him put food on the table. Businesses and life in Kangemi remained uninterrupted despite the pope’s visit.
Kangemi is an area where a good number of people live on less than a dollar a day. A majority here must work every day to earn their daily bread. Most are casual labourers or small business owners.
Probably, that was the consideration made to ensure people went on with their daily businesses to ensure their lives were not interrupted by the Papal visit.
Business people from different areas in Nairobi saw the papal visit as an opportunity.
They flocked the slum that has now earned worldwide recognition for hosting the Holy Father.
Some of them were selling Pope’s portraits, 2016 calendars with photos of the Pope and catholic rosaries and crosses.
Others were operating temporary studios with a photo of Pope Francis and U.S President Barack Obama on the background.
Motorbike riders made a fortune as there were many people travelling from the main road to the church while others were there purely for businesses.
There was high completion for business.
The sellers did anything they could to attract customers. They had to shout beyond their voices calling on customers.
Others jiggled their coins and whistled as they verbally advertised their products.
“A calendar with the pope, twenty bob,” one of the sellers repeated the price in both English and Kiswahili.
The voices were many, loud and confusing.
But at another corner a woman selling calendars as well had unique words to attract more buyers.
Her tag line was that her calendars had been prayed for and even blessed.
“I am selling at a throw away price. Clap, clap, clap, let people carry and carry all of them. My calendars have even been prayed for and blessed by the priests, they are clean, let people carry,” she shouted even as the wind blew some of her calendars away.
She caused laughter among the buyers and visitors who were walking out of the church after the departure of the pope.
“Mama, don’t step on the pope,” she said referring to a calendar that had the portrait of the pope.
Even as they appreciated the unique visit by the pope, they also celebrated that they made extra money in their small businesses.