Pope Francis has arrived in Kenya for a three-nation African tour – his first to the continent as Pontiff.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and ululating crowds welcomed him at the airport in the capital, Nairobi.
A leading Muslim cleric in Kenya welcomed the visit, saying it gave hope to the “downtrodden in the slums”.
Pope Francis is also due to visit Uganda and Central African Republic, which has been hit by Christian-Muslim conflict.
I go with joy to meet Kenyans, Ugandans and our brothers in Central Africa,” he told journalists on his plane, the AFP news agency reports.
He played down fears for his safety by joking: “I’m more worried about the mosquitoes.”
Kenya’s government has said that up to 10,000 police officers may be deployed during the visit.
Pope Francis is due to hold a mass on Thursday at the University of Nairobi sports ground, where a crowd of more than one million is expected, Kenya’s private Daily Nation newspaper reports.
The Atheists group in Kenya group said the decision to declare Thursday a public holiday and a day of prayer was unconstitutional.
“The constitution clearly states that there shall be no state religion. We cannot have the government acting religiously,” its leader Harrison Mumia said, Nation FM radio station reports.
culled from www.bbc.com