Kenyans mark Good Friday with processions amid gloom 

Catholic faithful St Joseph's Busia Uganda Marty's parish on the way of the cross in Busia town

Catholic faithful St Joseph's Busia Uganda Marty's parish on the way of the cross in Busia town on 7th April 2023 to mark good Friday:

Photo credit: Isaac Wale  | Nation Media Group

It is a time to make Easter holiday merry for some, while for others the season brings that hollow feeling that reminds them of their penury. 

For Kenyan Christians, Easter is a time of deep religious reflection, the holiest weekend in their calendar. 
From the high cost of living that continues to hit households, delayed salaries and security concerns in northern Kenya, multiple crises are dampening the festive mood.

For thousands of government workers, including lawmakers, devolved government employees and those at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, the Easter weekend has arrived without their  March salaries.
President William Ruto wished Kenyans a great Easter weekend, terming it “a divine opportunity to set things right and to get things going at the right pace, in the right direction”.

good friday eldoret

Catholic faithful at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County, enact The Way Of The Cross on Good Friday, led by Fr Timothy Kiplagat, on April 7, 2023.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

“Kenya has in the recent past endured its share of difficulties and struggles, weakened economic growth, depleted resources, debt and drought, amidst political disagreement. In the cold darkness of this storm, after the turmoil and injury, the promise of resurrection and eternal life shone like a light at the end of the tunnel,” Dr Ruto said.

March salaries

In a lengthy statement, opposition Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition pointed out the difficulties a majority of Kenyans are facing, criticising the government for failing to alleviate the suffering.
National Assembly Minority Leader, Opiyo Wandayi, called for the formation of a commission of inquiry into what has gone wrong in critical state institutions.

good friday 2023

Dan Mbita, a chef at Shemeji Restaurant in Lanet, along the Nakuru-Nairobi highway, roasts meat in anticipation of  an influx of customers as Good Friday is marked on Apri 7, 2023. 

Photo credit: Boniface Mwangi | Nation Media Group

“Azimio la Umoja One Kenya is deeply concerned with the worsening economic situation that has seen the government unable to meet one of its most basic of obligations, which is paying its workers,” the Ugunja MP said in a statement yesterday. 
“We fear this country is collapsing as we sit pretty hoping for miracles.”
Mr Wandayi cited the continued accumulation of public debt, even as county governments are yet to receive funds from the National Treasury for four months now.

The national administration owes state agencies Sh204 billion while counties are demanding Sh92.5 billion, which is the equitable share for January, February, and March.

“How can it be that we scrapped subsidies, increased taxes and continue to borrow, only for our financial situation to get worse?” Mr Wandayi asked. 

“Where is the money going? This is the sad state of affairs that the Kenya Kwanza administration is hiding from Kenyans.”
The lawmaker added that it is the first time since independence in 1963 that the government is unable to pay salaries to its employees.

By Thursday afternoon, MPs and parliamentary staff had not been paid their March salaries while nearly all civil servants don’t know when or if they will get paid. 
The situation has been degenerating progressively since December 2022 when lawmakers and government employees started experiencing salary delays.

“The result of the blatant theft and incompetence at institutions in charge of revenue generation and collection is that civil servants and MPs have gone to Easter wit

good friday eldoret

Catholic faithful at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County, enact The Way Of The Cross on Good Friday, led by Fr Timothy Kiplagat, on April 7, 2023.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

 “It is a sad time. We never ever imagined this could happen in Kenya and warned that it won’t be long before members of the disciplined forces also begin missing salaries if we continue on this trajectory.”
He questioned the “dubious credibility” of individuals appointed to critical government institutions like the National Treasury, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

And as thousands flocked to entertainment joints to mark Good Friday yesterday, others chose to visit places of worship, taking part in the Way of the Cross processions to remember Christ’s suffering.

Those in bandit-prone regions of Turkana and West Pokot counties were fleeing places they have always called home.
Bandits descended on their homesteads in the dark, driving away livestock and killing some people in the process. 
West Pokot County Commissioner, Apollo Okello, said suspected bandits from Turkana County crossed the border and ambushed residents of Lami Nyeusi on the Kapenguria-Lodwar highway, making away with  18 goats.
He said the group killed five people in the Thursday 4 am attack. 

Five hours later, bandits raided Nayanatiir and Nakwakaal villages in Turkana East sub-county and stole 2,600 livestock. 
Fear and tension has now engulfed the region. 
Lami Nyeusi, a border village lying near a river that pastoralists have always used as their safe haven in case of such daring, brazen attacks, remained deserted yesterday. 

nakuru good friday

Fr James Muraya of St Peter's Catholic Church in Elburgon, Nakuru County, leads faithful in a 'Way of the Cross' procession on Elburgon- Njoro road on Good Friday, April 7, 2023. 

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

On an ordinary day, it is usually abuzz with activities. 
Motorists and passengers plying the Kitale-Lodwar road are also concerned following attacks, especially between Marich in West Pokot and Kalemngorok in Turkana, despite assurance from security bosses of a well-coordinated multi-agency security operation that includes highway patrols.

Many kilometres away in the Coast, hotels are priming for merrymakers. 
In Kwale County, the demand for affordable accommodation in Diani went up as Easter celebrations kicked off in the tourist town.

Establishments like Jacaranda Indian Ocean Beach Resort, Swahili Beach, Diani Reef Hotel and Spa and Baobab Beach Resort were busy as visitors from various parts of the country and abroad flocked in.
The number of foreign guests in tourist destinations has been rising since coronavirus restrictions were relaxed, encouraging international travel.

There was, however, little activity at the beach compared to the Christmas season when locals and tourists flock to the attraction, as some Kwale residents are observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan.
The situation was different in entertainment joints. Transport operators, especially tuk tuks, had brisk business all day, ferrying visitors between their hotels and attraction sites.

good friday kakamega

Catholic bishop Joseph Obanyi, of the Diocese of Kakamega, carries a cross as he leads faithful in a 'Way of the Cross' Good Friday procession to St Joseph's Cathedral in Kakamega town on April 7, 2023. 

Photo credit: Isaac Wale | Nation Media Group

Kenya Coast Tourist Association chairman, Victor Shitakha, said this year’s Easter weekend will be slightly different because “it is not favoured by the school calendar”. Hotel bookings are at 70 per cent compared to 80 last year. 
Mr Shitakha cited Diani and Mombasa as among the regions enjoying good business, as Malindi experiences low bookings.
“Most hotels will not be expecting families because children are still in school,” he said.
Ms Sophia Mwangi, who owns a chain of holiday homes commonly known as Airbnbs, said business is booming with most of the rooms fully booked.

"My rooms were booked as early as January for Easter,” she said, adding that apart from Nairobi, guests from other parts of the country are also making their way to the global holiday destination.
The Leopard Beach Resort and Spa, according to General Manager Kioko Musyoki, is booked at 90 per cent bed occupancy and will be busy with holidaymakers.

Guests enjoyed swimming and entertainment at the establishment as the hot weather favoured them.
“We are happy that to have many guests over Easter. We are lucky this year for receiving local and international tourists. We cannot complain,” Mr Musyoki said.

nakuru good friday

Fr James Muraya of St Peter's Catholic Church in Elburgon, Nakuru County, leads faithful in a 'Way of the Cross' procession on Elburgon- Njoro road on Good Friday, April 7, 2023. 

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

Festive parties were out of the equation as families cut back on non-essential spending to put up with the high cost of living.
The situation has seen essential household food like flour, milk, bread, meat, sugar, eggs, fruits and vegetables rise exponentially.

In the middle of this economic turmoil, public transport fare has also increased due to rising fuel prices. 
Many locals did not travel to their rural homes for the holidays.

Roast meat 

Streets in the capital city were crowded as many residents avoided travelling upcountry.
Ms Mary Wakesho, 40, a Voi resident, remembered how they used to travel to their parents’ home in Taveta to celebrate Easter and Christmas as a family.

Due to the rising cost of living, things look a little different today. 
She has scaled down and instead had a small and quiet festive season with her family in Voi.
The mother of four said she no longer goes to her rural home with her children due to high travel and food costs.
“I used to travel with my husband and children to celebrate the holidays together in the rural home. We would slaughter goats and celebrate but that cannot happen now. Few families can afford that kind of merry-making,” she said.

“I would rather remain at home for my family cannot afford the shopping needed to take to relatives back home.”
Being a “small” holiday, Mary Muoki, 45 – a single mother of two – said she thinks she won’t miss out a lot. 
She has not been on her feet from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic that saw some businesses shut down. 

As Ms Muoki will celebrate the Easter weekend at her home in Voi.A spot check at markets in the town showed prices of vegetables had increased. 
Traders blame the situation on the high cost of fuel and the recent prolonged drought.
A kilogramme of local managu, spinach, mchicha, sukuma wiki and other vegetables was retailing at Sh100, up from Sh70 last year.

eldoret good friday

Men take part in a mock crucifixion at Holy Spirit Catholic church in Langas, Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County as Good Friday is marked on April 7, 2023.

Photo credit: Titus Ominde | Nation Media Group

Rising costs

“We understand that consumers face rising costs too, but, in this difficult environment we have no control of the prices,” Ms Betty Njeri – a greengrocer – told the Saturday Nation.
The drought has affected more than 150,000 residents in Taita Taveta County, many now surviving on donations and relief food from the government and well-wishers.

In the lakeside city of Kisumu, the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco), Kenya National Union of Pharmaceutical Technologist (KNUPT) and the Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers (Knumlo) threatened to boycott work from today following salary delays.

The health workers, who demanded their two-month salary arrears, said they would suspend their services until their demands are met.
The unions said the salary delays have left a number of their members struggling with mental and psychosocial problems, thus interfering with services.

To stop the strike, the Kisumu devolved government moved to the Employment and Labour Relations Court, to seek orders to stop the boycott pending the hearing and determination of the case.

“An order of temporary injunction is granted and hereby issued restraining the respondents and their members in Kisumu County from proceeding on with strike notice dated March 31, 2023, pending hearing inter-party of the application,” Justice Jemimmah Keli ruled, certifying the application as urgent.
“Take notice that an order of the court has been given in terms of the one above. Should you disobey the same, you shall be in contempt of court and liable to a prison term not exceeding six months.”
The case will be heard on April 13.

kwale good friday

Catholic faithful from the Matuga Diocese in Kwale County are pictured in a procession to celebrate the Good Friday (way of the Cross) on April 7, 2023.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

The strike by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union has seen most services at hospitals and dispensaries, including surgery, suspended. 

As of April 7, doctors had vacated the premises of the public hospitals, leaving nurses and clinical workers in charge.
Immediately the Kenya Kwanza administration came to power in September last year, it scrapped subsidies on basic goods.
The Ruto administration then embarked on tax increases, including a 20 per cent tax on M-Pesa transactions.

The levy on internet transactions went up to 16 per cent, 15 per cent capital gains tax on the transfer of property and VAT on e-books and videoconferencing among others. The result has been a rise in the cost of living.

Reporting by Daniel Ogetta, David Mwere, Cece Ciago, Angeline Ochieng’, Sammy Lutta, Brian Ocharo and Lucy Mkanyika