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Kenyans usher in 2009

Thursday January 1 2009

John Cardinal Njue, gives a sermon during a

John Cardinal Njue, gives a sermon during a Mass to celebrate the New Year 2009 at the Holy Family Basilica. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA  

By SAMUEL CHEBOI and CASPER WAITHAKA

Songs were sung and homilies recited as thousands of Nairobi residents thronged worship places to celebrate the New Year.

Those who attended special mass sessions had reason to thank God for enabling them witness the ushering in of a New Year full hope for peace.

And it was a different kind of celebration because many people had no chance to welcome the previous year due to the post-election violence that rocked the country at the time.

John Cardinal Njue, who led worshippers in a mass at the Holy Family Basilica, called on the faithful to seek forgiveness as a way of ushering in the New Year.

He said peace should not be viewed in terms of absence of war but in terms of whether there exist any harmony within individuals and between people and communities.

“Let’s deepen our faith with God to be able to appreciate each other. This is the only way we can live in peace with each other,” Cardinal Njue said during the sermon.

He said as a country, Kenya has a reason to thank God for saving it from the post-election anarchy last year and challenged worshippers to cultivate harmony with others to foster peaceful coexistence among the various communities.

Saying that people take for granted the fact that they have lived to see the New Year, Cardinal Njue advised Christians to take as God’s gift and sign of generosity from God which should offer an opportunity to know, love and serve Him the more.

“Let this year bring a spirit of acceptance and love among Kenyans. Never again should we go back to what happened last year. Last year is gone and we need to face this year with renewed hope,” he said.

The prelate encouraged worshippers to reflect on their conduct during the past year to be able to redouble their efforts in strengthening their relationship with their Maker.

All Saints Cathedral was also packed to capacity as worshippers went on their knees to seek repentance and pray for a favoured 2009.

However, most restaurants and city bars could not accommodate the large number of revellers that strolled the facilities the whole night.

City streets were full of action with hawkers selling sweets, cigarettes, condoms, clothes, shoes among other accessories.

A reveller Mercy Mwai said it was time they celebrated as last year was full of tension. “We could not have gone out last year as such a time as the post poll violence was looming and we were all very worried,” she said.
Banda street was closed unceremoniously for about three hours as hundreds of youths jammed the street and danced to music from restaurants.

The Nation also witnessed security men vetting revellers before being ushered to the restaurants.