Churches preach hope, unity, ask Ruto to tackle high living cost

Archbishop of Nyeri Anthony Muheria administers the holy communion to faithfuls after delivering his Christmas message at Consolata Cathedral in Nyeri, December 25, 2022. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Messages of hope, peace and unity dominated speeches and sermons in Nyanza as thousands of residents flocked to churches to celebrate Christmas.

In Homa Bay, the clergy urged the government to fulfil its promise to reduce the cost of living.

Homa Bay Catholic Diocese Vicar General Francis Lesso and Legio Maria Vicar General John Okumu of Pap Ndege Parish said they are concerned about the suffering many Kenyans are undergoing because of the high cost of living.

Fr Lesso lamented that while President William Ruto had promised to reduce the cost of living in his first 100 days in office, nothing has changed.

"During his campaigns ahead of the last General Election, the president promised Kenyans that his government will reduce the cost of living. It is therefore unfortunate that the situation has instead continued to worsen. Oil prices, which determine the cost of consumable goods, still continue to rise," he said.

The priest urged the government to focus on how oil prices can be reduced and in the process reduce the cost of living.

Fr Okumu told President Ruto to fulfil the promises he gave Kenyans during his election campaigns.

"Many people are afflicted by famine and the situation has been made worse by the high cost of living. It is time for Christmas celebrations but families have nothing to eat because of the difficult economic situation," he said.

In Bondo, ODM leader Raila Odinga described the Christmas season as a period to reflect on the tough year the country has gone through.

Raila used his Christmas Day speech to sell hope to Kenyans, saying he was hoping for a better year.

He was speaking at Nyamira ACK in Bondo where he rallied Kenyans to join hands and support each other during the festive season.

"As a country, we have had tough times but as we head to the New Year, we are praying for better things," said Raila.

He urged the church to use its influence to fight for justice.

Raila was accompanied by Siaya Governor James Orengo, Senator Oburu Oginga, former Governor Cornel Rasanga and Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda.

In Migori County, Christians congregated in various churches to give thanks and celebrate Christmas.

At St Joseph Ombo Catholic Church, hundreds of believers sat patiently as Fr Jacob Oyugi preached about perseverance and belief in God.

The priest told the congregants how the world loved darkness and they should accept God's light.

He asked them to remember all the gifts the Lord has blessed them with and share with others who lack.

"We cannot say we are celebrating Christmas when we cannot make someone smile, even your enemy," Fr Oyugi said.

He told the congregants that when they love their enemies, the light of the Lord will shine in their lives.

Believers who attended the 11am service said they were happy for the day, despite the challenges they faced.

Beatrice Awuor, a resident of Migori town, said despite how unbearable life had become, she got the strength to attend the church service and celebrate Christmas.

"I am very happy we have been able to meet as Christians. We believe that no matter how difficult it is, it is well with God," Ms Awuor said.

Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary General Akello Misori, who attended the service, wished teachers a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

He urged them to be patient as they waited for deliberations that would take place between them and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) over the anxiety related to the promotion of teachers.

Misori said a decision by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to pull down an advert they had placed on promotion of teachers was discriminatory.

"This is a government that we can engage with. I would ask the teachers to act with restraint and focus our attention on representation as the union has the capacity to address issues with the employer as they may arise," he said.

[Reports By James Omoro, Anne Atieno, Clinton Ambujo and Isaiah Gwengi]

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