Photo Credit: Colour in Faith
[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] A number of churches, mosques and other religious temples in Kenya are being painted yellow as part of an initiative to bring people of different faiths together. The Colour in Faith project is “an art orchestration that creates a space for the expression of faith in humanity and universal values.”
Nabila Alibhai, the project’s cultural curator, has been involved in innovation in peace-building and civic engagement, public health and safety for a several years; and has worked on projects in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tanzania, the US and Switzerland. “The reason we chose yellow is because yellow is the colour of light, light dispels darkness,” she told ACNS. “It is a also a neutral colour that can tie all faiths together in a movement that expresses love and common humanity as the most important elements of all faiths.”
The Colour in Faith project has previously worked in Afghanistan, where its focus was on the deployment of pink balloons. It has chosen Kenya for this new project because of the “growing dominance of fundamentalist voices and acts of terror justified on religious grounds” which lies in contrast to the country’s “long established culture of religious acceptance, tolerance, accommodation and exchange.”
The project says that they are painting houses of worship yellow to “represent a physical manifestation of love as the most important value in any religion. The colouring of the buildings would highlight the idea that there is more that unites us than divides us as a people, African and otherwise.”
One of the first churches to be painted was Holy Trinity Church in Kibera, part of the Anglican Church of Kenya. Members of its congregation led the painting at the nearby Jeddah Mosque; while members of the Mosque took responsibility for painting the church in an act that brought the two communities together.
Lilian Nekesa, a young member of the Church, told NTV Kenya television that through the project she had become friends with a number of Muslims for the first time.
Speaking in the same news report, the vicar of Holy Trinity, the Revd Albert Woresha, explained that the project was helping to break down barriers where “people don’t seem to like one another” or were talking with “ill motives of one religion or the other” in a way that “travels down to our children”.
Yasmany Arboleda, the US-based artist leading the project, said that they left the bricks at Holy Trinity in their natural state, but painted the pointing in-between them “to make it seem like the light is seeping out from the building and coming out” in a scene he described as “amazing”.
The newly painted yellow pointing at Holy Trinity Church, Kibera, makes "it seem like the light is seeping out from the building and coming out”, artist Yasmany Arboleda said.
Photo: Colour in Faith
He told Africa Uncensored: “When we think about houses of worship turning yellow in the name of love, it might sound simple; but I think it is spectacularly important, and I think that it is a tool for us to recognise and acknowledge that uniting as a people around the world, beyond language, beyond religion, beyond ethnicity, beyond politics, is a critical thing that needs to happen as soon as possible so that we can move this world forward.”
The project has already painted several churches, mosques and temples. The Anglican Church of Kenya’s church at Kengeleni in the Frere Town neighborhood of Mombasa will join the growing list in the coming weeks.