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Taking it to the Streets: Christian Hip-Hop in Kenya

Christianity entered Kenya through missionary efforts. But the mistake of those early missionaries was their focus on the afterlife rather than on how temporal affairs are affected and transformed by Christ. Missionaries failed to provide connections between everyday life and life in the hereafter. That's not unique to Kenya, says Kenyan-born Christian anthropologist Mwenda Ntarangwi, but is common around the world, including in the U.S. What is needed are ways for the Christian message to enter into contemporary culture, to inform life here and now. An important avenue is contemporary music, which for an anthropologist both reflects and influences culture. One genre, hip-hop, is present all over the world, and raises the interesting question, how can hip-hop be used to share the gospel on the streets of the world? In a 1-hour video-recorded presentation at the 2014 Symposium on Worship at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, a resource for renewing worship in Christian faith communities, Ntarangwi explored the history of Christianity in Kenya, and how young Kenyans understand and reflect their faith and proselytize for Christ through youth street culture, especially hip-hop. For more on young adult faith and religious practices, read our article, "A New Book Suggests Teens are Practicing Religion in Their Own Way," and explore the links in "Best Resources for Youth Research."

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