Why are Kenya’s churches and mosques turning yellow?
Churches and mosques across Kenya are being painted yellow in an effort to bring the country’s religious communities together.
The yellow lick of paint serves as a striking symbol of unity and peace between Muslims and Christians.
The Color in Faith project is spearheaded by Columbian-American artist Yazmany Arboleda and his Kenyan counterpart Nabila Alibhai.
In Kenya, recent acts of terror and fundamentalism justified on religious ground have significantly damaged the relationship between Christians and Muslims.
The project’s main goal is to have people of all faiths working together in their holy spaces.
“I wanted to paint the mosque to show I’m part of the community and to show that we aren’t that different after all,” said Mombasa resident Khalima Mohammed. Credit: courtesy Color in Faith
Artist Yazmany Arboleda believes these “sculptures in the landscape” can serve as change agents.
Arboleda hopes these painted sites will inspire Kenyans to imagine a better future by focusing on all they have in common.
Just nine places of worship have been painted across Kenya, but plans are underway for forty more mosques and churches to be painted.
Bishop Rose Mungafu jumped at the chance to paint her church yellow. “For me, yellow is the color of the sun and the sun shines above everybody,” she said.
From the crowded streets of the Kibera slum to the steamy Mombasa coast, a peculiar trend has emerged across Kenya. Mosques are changing their traditional green facades, churches ditching their typical modest hues and are opting instead for a loud, unmistakable — some may say ostentatious — yellow.
The project, called Color in Faith, is an effort to bring together Kenya’s religious communities and is spearheaded by Colombian-American artist Yazmany Arboleda and his Kenyan counterpart Nabila Alibhai. Religious leaders say the yellow makeover serves as a symbol.
“For me, yellow is the color of the sun and the sun shines above everybody,” said Bishop Rose Mungafu. Her church in Mombasa recently partnered with the local Muslim community to paint the church yellow.
“We painted together to show our people that we as leaders are together and so Muslims will know Christians are brothers,” Mungafu said. “Now everyone who passes by will know we are in peace.”
Why are these buildings turning yellow? While Kenya has historically been a home of multiple faiths, the rise of the Islamist terror group Al-Shabaab drove a wedge between Christians and Muslims in the East African nation.