Christians gathered at different churches in Kigali to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, ahead of his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The highlight of the activities was the “Way of the Cross” procession by Christians in Kigali.
“We started preparations on Holy Thursday, the day Jesus shared ‘Holy Communion’ (the Last Supper) with. We spent all day long praying on Holy Friday, recalling Jesus crucifixion–the journey through which Jesus passed until his death on Friday,” the Arch Bishop of Anglican Church, Dr Onesphore Rwaje, told The New Times last evening.
He said, today, believers are expected to spend the night praying until the resurrection of Jesus tomorrow (Easter Sunday).
He added that babies will be baptised as a sign of new life as Jesus also received new life after resurrecting from the dead.
“Christians are advised to live humble lives like Christ did, embrace unity and good social cohesion, love as Jesus Christ loved mankind by saving us from bondage of sin.
Christians should show love to each other and their bible lessons must not stay in words but actions like giving alms to the vulnerable and teach them to pray,” the Archbishop added.
Emmanuel Habanabakize, a Christian said when he remembers Jesus’ suffering and death, tears roll down his cheeks.
“It is a lesson for Christians to repent as he died for our sins. We should emulate him and teach our children and others to get baptised and practice good morals,” the Catholic faithful said.
Elsewhere, Pope Francis presided at a Good Friday service where he heard the Vatican's official preacher accuse the international community of indifference to the persecution of Christians.
Father Raniero Cantalamessa, whose title is “preacher of pontifical household,” referred to Thursday’s attack, where Islamist militants attacked a university in Kenya, killing at least 147 people.
The long “Passion of the Lord” service, during which the pope prostrated in prayer on the marble floor of St. Peter's Basilica on the day Christians commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion, is one of the few times he listens while someone else preaches.
Cantalamessa weaved his sermon around the plight of Christians today.
Besides the Kenya killings, he mentioned the beheading of 22 Egyptian Coptic Christians last February by Islamic State militants in Libya.
Later yesterday, the second of four days of papal activities culminating on Easter Sunday, Francis led a candlelight “Way of the Cross” procession around the ruins of Rome’s Colosseum.
Tonight, the head of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholic celebrates an Easter Eve service in St. Peter’s Basilica. On Sunday he delivers his twice yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing and message.
The Pope earlier condemned the Kenyan university attack as “senseless brutality.”
Kigali business slow
Meanwhile, while Christians were busy marking Good Friday, businesspeople decried the few customer turn out.
A mini survey by The New Times revealed there were few customers at different markets.
Around Nyabugogo Mutangana Market, a butchery attendant, Christine Nyiraneza, received two customers in about 30 minutes despite efforts to call them aloud.
“This is a ‘bad Friday’, I’m expecting maybe tomorrow, customers didn’t come as I was expecting today,” she complained.
Many other meat sellers reported similar scenario.
In Kigali city market, around the store of Irish potatoes, several minutes elapsed without buyers, the same applied at Simba Supermarket and Nakumatt.
“Customers didn’t turn up today, but we have promotion for those who want to buy biscuits for children,” a trader said.
Two street vendors, one with T-shirts, another with children and women’s items, also complained that business was slow.
“But Easter is not so big like other festive seasons, people do not buy a lot, but at least tomorrow [Saturday] we expect to sell more,” a vendor said.
Even the commuter taxis witnessed a reduction in number of passengers as most people were either in church or decided to stay home.
It took several minutes for a taxi to fill at the various stages visited by this newspaper.
One driver complained that he was at a loss driving only three passengers to Nyamirambo.