Why Are Churches and Mosques in Nairobi Getting Painted Yellow?

Many houses of worship in Nairobi, Kenya, are going yellow. Yazmany Arboleda, a Colombian-American artist, is painting religious buildings in Nairobi as part of his public art project he calls Colour in Faith.

The project, according to its website, is about bringing people together regardless of faith differences:

The idea is an art orchestration that creates a space for the expression of faith in humanity and universal values. The orchestration would bring faith outside of the walls of institutions into an experience of encounter, expression of common acceptance and tolerance, and offer the opportunity to those of many faiths to extend their reach beyond and across institutional walls.

The paint color is a purposely bright yellow, Arboleda said the paint is called “Optimistic Yellow.”

“The goal was to take houses of worship in Kenya and paint them yellow in the name of love,” Arboleda told The Guardian. “The idea from the beginning was to turn buildings into sculptures that speak to our shared humanity.”

Arboleda has been working on this project since 2015, when he was in Nairobi for an artist residency. The project was slow to start, as Arboleda had to go to each specific place of worship and get their permission. The first location to be painted was the Jeddah Mosque Kambi in September 2015.

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The paint was donated by Sadolin paint company, based out of Uganda, and volunteers of all different backgrounds paint together.

“To see people smile and talk to each other is beautiful,” Arboleda said. “Art helps us reconsider ourselves and our thoughts about others.”

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