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Popemania hits East Africa

By Vision Reporter

Added 23rd November 2015 01:38 PM

Four days before Pope Francis lands in Uganda on the second leg of his Africa tour, the country's Catholics and souvenir-sellers alike are getting excited.

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KAMPALA - Four days before Pope Francis lands in Uganda on the second leg of his Africa tour, the country's Catholics and souvenir-sellers alike are getting excited.

As "Popemania" builds, images of the pontiff are giving the campaign pictures of presidential candidates a run for their money in the capital Kampala.

On the glass shelves of Jude Colour Solutions -- a self-declared "one stop centre for promotional items" -- four dollar (four euro) computer mouse pads with the pope's picture sit side-by-side with the usual bestseller bearing the presidential portrait.

"I'm very excited," said Catholic shop manager Bernard Ssenyondo, 32, when asked about the papal visit from November 27 to 29.

Francis will be the second pope Ssenyondo has seen, after John Paul II's visit in 1993, "when I was in primary school".

In pride of place on a high shelf sits Ssenyondo's prized possession: a trophy for "The Best Branding, Printing and Promotional Items Exhibitor in Uganda". And next to it, a Pope Francis vase. Only one of these items is for sale.

Mass excitement

"We are earning money from this!" said Ssenyondo, whose company began printing thousands of key rings, mugs, T-shirts and other souvenirs earlier this month, after being chosen as official trinket supplier by the local Catholic Church.

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A street artist paints a picture of Pope Francis in Nairobi, on November 20, 2015.  AFP PHOTO

"I get international exposure, and our tourism industry is going to earn more," he predicted.

Uganda is the second of three African countries the pontiff will visit, after spending two days in neighbouring Kenya.

Kenya too is busy preparing for the visit, cleaning the streets and trimming trees, with giant billboards erected to welcome the pope.

Bishop Alfred Rotich, who is heading the church's preparations in Kenya, has said they are planning for a tenth of all Kenyan catholics to see the pope - around a million people.

After two days in Uganda, he will travel to Central African Republic, where his trip will end on November 30, according to a Vatican itinerary.

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AFP

''Popemania'' hits East Africa, with mouse pads, key rings and more

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