Thou Shalt Not Rap -Kenya Church Suspends Rapping Priest

Father Paul Ogalo was barred from public preaching for a year.

A Kenyan Catholic priest has been suspended for rapping during sermons. The priest, attached to St. Monica Catholic Church, was given suspension orders on June 3. The Homa Bay Diocese brought misconduct charges against the 45-year-old pastor. Officials of the church took umbrage at Father Ogalo's preaching style. Father Olgalo was advised to reconsider his preaching style during his year suspension.

The suspension does not mean Ogalo is expelled entirely from church services. It means Father Paul Ogalo, whose nickname is “Sweet Paul,” can continue to teach the Bible to young people through drama and rap but not from the altar of the Rapogi, Migori County church, a few miles to Nairobi's southwest.

Bishop Philip Anyolo of Homa Bay Diocese said there could not be a mix of sacred and secular elements. The priest would substitute his priest robes with that of a rapper after mass. His usual outfit was a T-shirt and bandana. When asked by the media about his “Sweet Paul” alter ego, Olgao said, "Young people call me 'Sweet Paul' because I rap sweet."

Ogalo claims he adopted this unusual style as he wanted young Kenyans to be entertained safely and not at venues where they could lose their lives. The turning point in his life came in 2004 when he heard of three people being trampled to death when they went to attend a music festival in Nairobi. He claims his rap music attracts young people to the church and gets them interested in developing a relationship with Jesus Christ. Ogalo said he utilizes the captivating power of rap music to help young Kenyans to stop using drugs. The youth are also made aware of social justice and environmental issues.

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