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Rapturous welcome for Pope Benedict on first visit to Africa

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Thousands of people lined the route taken by Pope Benedict XVI from the airport to the Cameroonian capital of Yaounde on Tuesday as the spiritual leader arrived for a week-long stay on the continent.

Although it is the Bavaria-born Pontiff's 11th overseas trip since he ascended to the papal throne in 2005, it's his first to Africa. And he received a rapturous welcome, with local people turning out in force to catch a glimpse of him.

The Catholic leader, who was officially welcomed by the country's president Paul Biya, was bringing Africa's bishops a preview of the topics for the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican this October.

On Friday the 81-year-old heads for Luanda, the Angolan capital, where he'll be helping celebrate the 500th anniversary of the country's evangelisation by Portuguese Franciscan monks in the 15th century.

Photo: PA
Thousands of people lined the road to catch a glimpse of the Catholic leader as he made his way from the airport into the Cameroonian capital on Tuesday at the start of a week-long visit
Photo: PA
At his meeting with Cameroon bishops on Wednesday the pontiff - who was bringing them details of an October synod - was presented with a tapestry gift

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