Friday 27 November 2015

KENYA: Pope Francis Condemns Land Grabbing In Kenya On His Last Day

He spoke Friday morning when he visited Kangemi in Nairobi where he called for the provision of basic services to the poor. “Let us pray and work to ensure every family has access to dignified housing, drinking water and other basic services”, the Pope said.

He added: “I am aware that faceless developers have attempted to give themselves the playgrounds of your childrens’ schools”. The Pope further said the suffering of the poor is occasioned by the greedy minority in power. He urged Christians and pastors to renew their calls and take up their neighbors problems.

Pope Francis is in Kenya on a three-day tour. This is his maiden trip to Africa and he will also visit Uganda and Central African Republic.

"These are wounds inflicted by minorities who cling to power and wealth, who selfishly squander while a growing majority is forced to flee to abandoned, filthy and run-down peripheries," the 78-year-old pontiff told crowds in the Nairobi shanty town of Kangemi. Francis, whose visit to the slum is a highlight of his three-nation Africa tour, condemned the "dreadful injustice of urban exclusion."

Wild singing and ululating broke out as he arrived early on Friday, his popemobile weaving through streets in a sea of tin-roofed homes. "I am here because I want you to know that I am not indifferent to your joys and hopes, your troubles and your sorrows," Francis told the packed congregation in the church of St Joseph the Worker in Kangemi. "I realise the difficulties which you experience daily. How can I not denounce the injustices which you suffer?"

People arrived long hours before dawn in the hope of catching a glimpse of the pope, who has made efforts for social justice a hallmark of his tenure. Francis criticised the lack of "infrastructures and basic services", including sewerage, electricity, good roads, school and hospitals. "They are a consequence of new forms of colonialism countries are frequently pressured to adopt policies typical of the culture of waste," he added.

"This situation of indifference and hostility experienced by poor neighbourhoods is aggravated when violence spreads and criminal organisations, serving economic or political interests, use children and young people as 'cannon fodder' for their ruthless business affairs," he added, singling out the role women play in binding such societies together. "I also appreciate the struggles of those women who fight heroically to protect their sons and daughters from these dangers."

Pope Francis visited Nairobi's Kangemi area on Friday, calling such informal settlements "wounds inflicted" by a wealthy and powerful elite and urging Africa's governments to do more to lift their people up from poverty.

The pope, making his first visit to the continent, has championed the plight of the poor both in public declarations and his own way of life, shunning the institutional perks of the Vatican. Even before he became Latin America's first pope in 2013, he was known as the "the slum bishop" because of his frequent visits to the shantytowns of Buenos Aires.

Kenya is the first stop on his Africa tour, which also takes him to Uganda and the Central African Republic, a grindingly poor nation riven by Muslim-Christian sectarian conflict. While calling for religious dialogue and appealing for steps to address climate change when he visited the U.N. offices in Nairobi, Francis has regularly returned to his concern about inequality and poverty in his homilies and speeches.

On his last day in Kenya, the pope visited Nairobi's Kangemi district, a neighbourhood of potholed roads, open sewers and jerry-built shacks for homes, lying a few hundred metres from smart apartment blocks and gated residential compounds.

Addressing slum dwellers, charity workers and clergy in St. Joseph the Worker Church, the pope spoke of the "dreadful injustice of urban exclusion" represented in such poor areas.

"These are wounds inflicted by minorities who cling to power and wealth, who selfishly squander while a growing majority is forced to flee to abandoned, filthy and run-down peripheries," he said. Debt to the poor He criticised "faceless private developers who hoard areas of land and even attempt to appropriate the playgrounds of your schools" but he said communal values in poor districts showed there was an alternative culture to the "god of money."

Children from a school run by the Catholic nuns and priests sang for the pope in the simple church of cinder blocks and wood, built across the road from a row of homes made of corrugated metal. Francis said one of biggest challenges was a lack of basic amenities. "Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water," he said, adding no "bureaucratic pretext" should deny a family clean water.

Welcoming the pope Musonde Kivuva, archbishop of Mombasa and president of Kenya's branch of the Catholic charity Caritas, thanked the pope for setting an example of humility with his simple life and for his calls for change. "More can be done and should be done in all our slums. We do not need to wait for the Holy Father to come," he said.

Later on Friday, he travels to Uganda, which like Kenya been struck by Islamist militant attacks. On Sunday, he flies to the Central African Republic, where dozens of people have been killed in violence since September.

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