, 18 March, 2020 / 5:10 AM
Citizens of the East African nation of Kenya are being encouraged “to turn to God”, express their fears and seek His “ever-present protection” as COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, spreads across the globe, with Kenya confirming a fourth case Tuesday, March 17.
“We cannot ignore the need to turn to God,” Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said in an official statement in which he declared Saturday, March 21 a National Day of Prayer.
In these circumstances as we have done in the past as a nation, we have always turned to God first to give thanks for the many blessings that He has bestowed on our nation. But we also turn to God to share our fears, our apprehensions, but also to seek his guidance and ever-present protection,” President Kenyatta explained in his Tuesday, March 17 statement issued at State House in Nairobi.
The Saturday prayer day, the President said, “will be led by a team of religious leaders here at State House, Nairobi starting at 12.00 noon on Saturday,”
“We acknowledge always that we are nothing without our God,” President Kenyatta, a Catholic, said and continued in reference to the challenge of the deadly coronavirus disease, “We have learnt over time that turning to God in such times gives us not only comfort but also hope and strength to overcome even those challenges that for us as humans may seem insurmountable.”
The decision to declare a National Prayer Day was arrived at after “consulting a cross-section of ordinary Kenyans as well as our religious leaders,” Kenya’s Head of State said and added, “through our religious leaders, we will be asking God for His forgiveness for anything that we may have done wrong or wronged Him.”
The President’s declaration came shortly after Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mutahi Kagwe confirmed that a fourth person had tested positive for COVID-19.
“The latest case was confirmed today at our national influenza laboratory … the patient travelled from London, United Kingdom," Kagwe said Tuesday, March 17.
Following the Minister’s updates, President Kenyatta sought to reassure Kenyans that his government is prioritizing the safety of citizens.
“In our own local context, we have done and continue to do everything possible to keep our citizens safe, and prevent further spread of the virus to our population while securing the continuity of business operations,” President Kenyatta said.
While the gathering at State House on Saturday will involve select religious leaders in line with the directive to avoid crowds, the President encouraged Kenyans to join the leaders in prayer from wherever they will be and urged the local media to broadcast the spiritual session.
“In consideration of the protocols that we announced on Sunday and other ongoing protocols that will be announced from time to time, I have thought it necessary that this day of prayer be observed in our homes, in our places of work or wherever we shall be residing on that day,” President Kenyatta said.
He added, “I appeal to our media houses and kindly request them to broadcast this event live on all our television stations, our radio stations and our online platforms so that we can facilitate every single Kenyan to participate in this event.”
He went on to say, “On that day, we shall together ask for His protection and blessing for our Nation, for our people, for the world and all global citizens. We shall ask God to abide with us, and to guide us, both in this period, and in times to come.”
The call to turn to God, President Kenyatta said, is guided by the words of St. Paul to the Philippians (4:6-9), urging them to “pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.”
“Fellow Kenyans, let us join hands together on Saturday. Let us pray for our country. Let us pray for our unity,” the President emphasized.
“Let us pray to see this pandemic resolved and let us pledge to love one another, to live in peace and harmony with each other and let us pray that the world will once again refocus itself on those things that are good, on those things that are virtuous, on those things that are peaceful,” President Kenyatta concluded.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa