Kenyan Churches are Being Painted Yellow in a Display of Unity

Painting houses of prayer the color of hope: yellow.

The world as we know it is burning with interreligious violence and hatred. While religious extremism is on a phenomenal rise, misunderstandings between people of different faiths are creating deep chasms and making the human race more disconnected. In these difficult times, the Kenyans have found a most unusual way to declare to extremists that they do not want to be separated from each other anymore. They decided to paint their places of worship yellow.

One of the most beautiful and interesting aspects about entering a multicultural city is to discover its varied and diverse religious differences. These differences are seen most visibly in their places of worship. Each region has its own style of building its places of worship that that make them unique and special. In Nairobi, a city with a diverse religious population, the citizens seem to have gotten fed up with these differences as they only result in people stopping to identify themselves with another. Instead, they feel that people are taking these differences too deeply and on a fundamental level, trying to assert their own religion as supreme, though the country has been peaceful in general.

Yazmany Arboleda, a Colombian-American artist, came up with the Colour in Faith Project, a very unique solution for the citizens, which involves painting all religious houses with a common color. When asked why the unconventional choice of yellow, Arbodela says that for the citizens this color represents hope.

It wasn't easy for the artist to convince the leaders of different communities to agree. While some mosques wanted to know how the color was representative of Islam, churches pleaded lack of funds. It was a difficult task to find someone to make a start with this project. His joy knew no bounds when the Jeddah Mosque Kambi accepted his proposal readily. Following this, the next religious house to don the color of hope was the A-C-K Holy Trinity Parish with the Baps Swaminarayan Hindu temple following in third. After this, a number of institutions came forward to make this dream come true so that today, a visitor will find mosques, churches, synagogues and temples all painted in yellow.

Arbodela, who calls himself “spiritual,” says that one of the most beautiful things that have happened ever since this project started is that people from different communities have begun to mingle with each other like never before. He says that seeing Muslims, Christians and Jews working together with smiles on their faces gives him one of the happiest feelings ever.

Nabila Alibhai, cultural curator of the Color in Faith Project believes that this initiative will spread across the country and even the world, spreading the message of love of plurality and expression of faith.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter