Pope Francis lashed out at wealthy minorities who hoard resources at the expense of the poor as he visited a crowded Nairobi slum on Friday, wrapping up the first-leg of a three nation tour.
The 78-year-old pontiff was given a rapturous welcome as he arrived in Kangemi, which is home to more than 100,000 people who live in shacks without sewerage, including 20,000 who belong to the local Catholic parish.
“These are wounds inflicted by minorities who cling to power and wealth, who selfishly squander while a growing majority is forced to flee to abandoned, filthy and run-down peripheries,” he told crowds in the slum which is on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital.
Wild singing and ululating erupted as Francis’ arrived in Kangemi, his popemobile weaving through a sea of tin-roofed homes.
Speaking at the local Catholic church, Francis — whose visit to the shanty town was a highlight of his three-day visit to this east African nation — condemned the “dreadful injustice of urban exclusion.”
“I am here because I want you to know that I am not indifferent to your joys and hopes, your troubles and your sorrows,” Francis told the packed congregation at the church of St Joseph the Worker.
“I realise the difficulties which you experience daily. How can I not denounce the injustices which you suffer?”
Francis criticised the lack of “infrastructures and basic services”, including sewerage, electricity, good roads, school and hospitals in a key address just hours before he leaves for Uganda and the Central African Republic.
“They are a consequence of new forms of colonialism… countries are frequently pressured to adopt policies typical of the culture of waste,” he added.
The pope went on to meet young people at Kasarani national stadium, where US President Barack Obama gave a keynote speech when he visited Kenya in July.
After arriving in Nairobi on Wednesday on his first-ever visit to Africa, the pope celebrated a giant open air public mass and spoke forcefully about the dangers of radicalisation and climate change.
“Experience shows that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration,” he said after arriving on Wednesday.
The fight against poverty has been a key theme of his visit, one that he picked up again before Thursday’s mass on meeting leaders from different faiths.
“All too often, young people are being radicalised in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies,” the pope said.