Mombasa Diocese Bishop Julius Kalu delivers the Christmas service in Memorial Cathedral on Thursday. Bishop Kalu asked locals to maintain peace and love during the festive season. [Photo: Kelvin Karani/ Standard]
Christians flocked churches on Christmas Day where messages of peace and love were preached as they celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ.
Hundreds of Nairobi residents also made merry with their families at public parks. They jammed Uhuru Park and Luna Park to enjoy camel riding, boat rowing, merry-go-round, bouncing castle, toy car racing and face painting among other activities.
Both the government and Opposition leaders took time off politics to join the festivities. In a message of goodwill President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto wished Kenyans peaceful celebrations.
“We trust that you have found time to relax and enjoy the beauty of our country and the splendid diversity, warmth and the generosity of our people... Remember to share the joy with all communities and all faiths in our timeless spirit of solidarity and brotherhood. Be safe and responsible,” they said in a statement.
At the Holy Family Basilica Church, the congregation was asked to love one another as the birth of Christ signified God’s love for us.
The final mass service of the day was presided over by John Cardinal Njue who pointed out the confrontation between MPs in Parliament while discussing the security laws portrayed a bad picture.
“There could be problems but there is no problem greater than us. When people disagree, they should seat and dialogue. Confrontations will not take us anywhere,” he said.
Cardinal Njue once again asked the faithful to refrain from getting the tetanus jab until the controversy was cleared. “All parties involved should lay their cards on the table regarding this vaccine so that it is clearly understood. But until then, our advice would be that people stay away from it.”
At All Saints Cathedral the Kenya Anglican Church Archbishop Eliud Wabukala encouraged the congregation to live together and accommodate their differences adding that people need to learn to listen to each other. “This is our guiding principle this Christmas and I want to urge the leaders to refrain from engaging in controversies because this is derailing the development of the country. We have engaged in too much politics for so long and this has taken away people’s energy to,” he added.
He said it was time to deal with poverty and unemployment which are at an all-time high.
“Corruption has contributed a great deal in making our enemies thrive amongst us. We need to be truthful to each other,” he said. And despite the high cost of living and the recent security threats Nairobians came out to celebrate the day in style.
Bus stops were packed as commuters travelled upcountry despite hiked fares. At the Machakos country bus station the vehicles were charging as high as Sh2,000 to Busia, while to Eldoret and Kisii ranged from Sh1,300 and Sh1,700 respectively up from Sh600 and Sh700.
But some city dwellers chose to stay around to avoid high expenses. Allan Onyango, a clothes trader, said he couldn’t take his family up country due to hiked fare to Kisumu.
“We were to pay more than twice what we usually pay so we decided to celebrate the holiday here and send some shopping money to our parents in Kisumu,” said Onyango who had brought his family to Uhuru Park. Alice Akinyi a resident of Utawala said she has not travelled upcountry for Christmas for the last three years due to financial constraints.
“This has saved us a lot of money and time. The bus stations are always full and struggling to get space with small children is stressful. We normally take the children to visit their grandparents during the April and August holidays when there is no much hustle,” said Akinyi.
A spot check at shopping malls showed several people were doing last-minute shopping.
Elsewhere, it was a rare spectacle as a convoy of over 50 taxis almost brought traffic to a standstill on the Nakuru-Naivasha highway.
Motorists and pedestrians watched as the lead taxi bearing a huge banner written, “Kinoo Taxis Welfare Group” (KTMG) made its way. A truck followed, laden with foodstuff and sacks of clothes. The convoy’s first destination was in Regen, near the Magana Flowers where they donated the items to Destined Children’s Centre.
“We raised money amongst ourselves to buy the foodstuffs and our clients and well-wishers donated cash and in kind in support of the initiative,” said Martin Karanja, the chairman of KTWG. More than Sh300,000 was raised.
Meanwhile, Nairobians turned out in huge numbers at entertainment spots to welcome Christmas. Revellers guzzled copious amounts of alcohol and nyama choma.
Security was beefed up in all the entertainment spots. At Tribeka, our photographer met with Central OCS in plainclothes, just after midnight. He said he was checking on security.
– Additional reporting by Kiundu Waweru
Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.