Pope Francis is making his maiden visit in Africa. During his tour, he is expected to visit Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. The aim of the papal visit is to strengthen the brethren, meet political and religious leaders and preach reconciliation within the various communities he will be visiting.
His proactive approach when it comes to handling global issues endears him to many followers across the religious divide. Even though some people were concerned about his trip to Africa, terming these countries as “hotspots of terror”, the pope assured them that he had nothing to worry about. When one reporter asked him if he was concerned about his security, the Pope replied that his only concern was the mosquitoes!
His first stop will be Kenya. Once he arrives in Kenya, he is expected to give a short speech aimed at urging global leaders to promote economic development in the continent and conserve the environment for the benefit of future generations. The pope is also expected to visit UNEP headquarters in Nairobi and give a speech on climate change. He will also visit the State house and meet with the Kenyan president. Over 30% of the population in Kenya is Catholic. The pope will also have a public mass during his tour.
After the Kenyan visit, the pope and his entourage will head to Uganda. This visit will make him the third pope to visit this country. Pope Francis’ visit comes after the visit of Pope John Paul in 1993 and Pope Paul VI in 1969.Uganda is the only country in Africa to have received three papal visits. The pope had wanted to make it to the country when it was celebrating Martyrs Day, but he couldn’t. Martyrs day is a national day marked in honor of 45 Ugandan martyrs who were killed by Kabaka Mwanga in the year 1886.They were Anglican and Catholic faithfuls. In his visit to Uganda , the pope will make his first stop at Munyonyo Martyrs’ shrine. After this he will visit two other shrines that honor more victims of the martyrs: Namugongo Catholic Martyr’s Shrine and Nakiyanja Protestant Martyrs Shrine. He will later hold a public mass at one of the shrines. He will also meet with the Ugandan president during his tour.
The Pope will end his African visit in CAR. His aim in this country is to foster inter-religious tolerance and unity. While in CAR, he will meet with Muslim representatives in a mosque in Bangui. Some experts argue that the papal visit to CAR may escalate tensions there. One even said that the pope should have arranged for a joint visit with a Muslim leader. However, it is strongly viewed that the Pope’s increasing popularity on global issues such as peace will mean well for this Central African country.
On his African tour, the pope is expected to discuss the following issues;
Inter ethnic and Religious Unity
The papal visit is expected to promote unity between various religions in the continent. The pope identified these three countries in Africa due to escalation of interreligious violence within them. Kenya has suffered attacks by the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab. In the past two years, hundreds of people have been killed in such attacks. Uganda is also at risk of attacks by the Al-Shabaab. This militant group has initiated a number of attacks in this country in the last few years.
The situation in CAR is also fuelled by interreligious animosity. The Muslim Selaka rebels and the Christina Anti Balaka rebels have been the ones behind these attacks.
Unlike his predecessors, the pope has been very vocal on global issues. One of these is climate change. He will talk about climate change. The pope will urge world leaders to safe guard the environment for the benefit of future generations. He is also expected to make a visit to UNEP- The UN arm responsible for environmental conservation.
On homosexuality, the pope will preach tolerance. He is expected to urge these African countries to be more receptive to the LGBT community. It is illegal to practice homosexuality in Uganda and Kenya. In CAR, practicing homosexuality is partly allowed. Uganda leads when it comes to promoting tough laws against the LGBT community. The president of Uganda is on record for saying that this community is repulsive.
Other issues the pope will be expected to address with the government leaders are corruption and economic development.
It is expected that the papal visit will lead to candid discussions on these issues. By doing so, it is expected that such national dialogue will pave way for substantive action to be taken to address these issues.
His visit will definitely promote economic development, boost tourism and promote tolerance. This presents a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and especially techpreneurs. Interreligious unity acts as a catalyst for economic growth .This presents a great opportunity for the entrepreneurs to launch products targeted at these hitherto neglected regions. When it comes to deepening financial inclusion in these countries, bitcoin has a huge role to play. Firms such as ABC (the African Bitcoin Center) should step up their efforts to promote bitcoin and its inherent technology across these countries.
On corruption, blockchain technology is touted as a breakthrough technology that can help fight this vice. Firms should set up tech incubators, such as disrupt hub (disrupthub.org) aimed at working closely with tech innovators to see how best to address such challenges from an African viewpoint.
This papal visit ,therefore, presents a good chance for players in the tech landscape to expand to new markets and develop new products targeted at these markets.
About the Writer
Dennis is a bitcoin enthusiast based in Kenya. He derives joy from spreading message on the benefits of bitcoin and its inherent technology.