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Live to your motto, Pope Francis tells Ugandans

Pope Francis landed in Uganda at 5:06pm to a rousing welcome from Ugandans who thronged Entebbe International Airport to receive him.

His Alitalia aeroplane touched down at Entebbe International Airport from Kenya where he has been since Wednesday this week for his second leg of the African visit, which will also take him to the Central African Republic.

Ugandans welcomed the Pope with songs and dance as President Yoweri Museveni led government officials including First Lady Janet, Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga, Prime minister Ruhakana Rugunda among others and religious leaders in receiving him. 

Pope Francis waves to crowds at Entebbe Airport

After greeting Museveni, the Pope was presented with a bouquet by a six-year-old girl Anne Jasmine Bamwine of Daffodils Kindergarten in Bukoto.
 
The Vatican anthem was then played, as Pope Francis received a 21-gun salute. This was followed by the Uganda national anthem and the East African Community anthem.

Ndere Troupe entertains guests before the arrival of Pope Francis at Entebbe Airport

About 1,000 people from different dioceses in Uganda were accredited to welcome the Pope upon arrival. Ndere Troupe provided entertainment in performing several cultural dances including the Kiganda dance, Runyege, Kinywarwanda and playing all sorts of local music instruments from makondele, madinda among others.

As President Museveni and the pontiff drove into Entebbe State House for a meeting, a section of the crowd started chanting "our man, no change" in their direction, presumably to show support to the president.

It is not only the NRM camp that has tried to milk some political points from the papal visit. For example all the three top contenders - Museveni, Kizza Besigye (Forum for Democratic Change) and Amama Mbabazi (Independent) have all uploaded welcoming posts on their social media with graphics related to their respective political colours.

 

Pope Francis entering his car enroute to State House

The Pope was scheduled to reach Entebbe at 4.50pm but was delayed in Kenya following his meeting with youths at Kasarani stadium where he emphasised the need to fight corruption and tribalism.

In a brief address to dignitaries and the media at State House, Pope Francis thanked Ugandans for the "gracious welcome" and that he was very happy to be in Uganda to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the canonisation of Ugandan martyrs. 

The Pope praised Uganda for standing out in East Africa as a welcoming destination for refugees giving them hope and a new beginning in life. He said Africa offers " promise, hope, challenges, achievements" and that the world looks at "Africa as a continent of hope."

Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala looking through his a car window at Entebbe. Photos: Nicholas Bamulanzeki

Pope Francis said Uganda is indeed blessed with abundant resources that the citizens are challenged to conserve and preserve. He said people need to show love to the elderly and the sick.

‘For God and My Country’ may remind us of the importance that faith, moral rectitude and commitment to the common good have played, have continued to play in the future, economic and political live of this country", Pope Francis said.

Tomorrow at 3pm the Pope is scheduled to meet youths at Kololo Independence grounds and he said he was looking forward to meeting them as they form the bulk of the Ugandan and African population and are the future of their country.

He also said he hoped his visit will help encourage people to grow in faith & spiritual values that have been slowly eroded by the adoption of globilsation over traditional cultural values.

Later in the evening the pope is to meet teachers and catechists at St Andrew Kaggwa Martyrs Shrine in Munyonyo where thousands are waiting for him.

More details to follow shortly...

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