First batch of 227 Kenyan pilgrims leave for Hajj in Saudi Arabia

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Mr Hussein Hassan Daban, 72, and Mohamud Hassan Daban, 66, are all smiles as they prepare to board a Kenya Airways plane bound for Saudi Arabia.

The two brothers are among the first batch of 227 pilgrims who left on Friday for the Arab nation's annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Hajj is the fifth pillar of the Muslim religion and an adult Muslim is expected to perform the right at least once in their lifetime.

Despite his advanced age, Daban, who lives in Mandera County and whose hands are occasionally held by his son Bashir Hussein Hassan, was in an ecstatic mood as he waited to board the plane for the most important event in Islam.

More than 4,000 Kenyans to join this year's Hajj

"I'm very happy that I'm going to perform Hajj so that my prayers will be accepted by Allah. I have always wanted to go for Hajj, but I was unable to go in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This will be my first time and I hope it won't be the last," Daban says in Somali as his son translates for him during an interview with Nation at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

His brother Mohamud, who lives in Isiolo County, is equally excited, saying that according to Muslim tradition, going on Hajj will ensure that he returns a clean and well-fed man and that his life's sins will be forgiven.

"I will bring my family Zamzam water (holy water that a pilgrim taking part in Hajj brings back for his family as part of the blessings received during worship in the holy city)," says Mohamud.

Abdullahi Haji, 55, has made the Hajj 13 times and will continue to do so as long as he is healthy and financially able. This year, the whole journey will cost him $7000 (Sh980,000), and it is a sacred event he is happy to take part in.

"I went to school in Saudi Arabia and that is probably why I have gone many times. In our religion, when you come out of this holy event, you are sinless just like a newborn baby," said Hajj.

Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale, Supkem executives led by Chairman Hassan Ole Naado and Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka flagged off the first batch of pilgrims at JKIA, wishing them a safe journey and a day of worship.

Mr Duale assured the travellers of the government's support and care, saying it would ensure that Kenyan pilgrims are well taken care of during this sacred event.

"We ask you to pray for peace and rain as we are experiencing drought. Let us all be each other's keepers and help even the elderly.  The Kenyan government and our counterparts in Saudi Arabia will ensure that everything goes well and that you are well received," said the CS.

Mr Ole Naado thanked the governments of Kenya and Saudi Arabia and said about 4,000 will travel to Mecca by 22 June when the last batch will fly to Saudi Arabia.

"Every Muslim wants to travel because this pilgrimage is a journey of a lifetime for every Muslim. A total of 227 pilgrims are travelling in the first batch and the last batch will leave on 22 June. We are grateful for the two Kenyans as we have worked closely with the Department of Immigration in issuing passports to first-time Hajj pilgrims. We also thank the government of Saudi Arabia for the support and consultations we had with them," said Ole Naado.