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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Ugandan Parliament calls for ban on street preaching

The Kampala Street Preacher



What it means to be a Kampala street preacher


Ugandan Parliament calls for ban on street preaching

Yasiin Mugerwa

Posted  Thursday, October 4  2012 at  01:00

Parliament yesterday provoked condemnation from evangelists after legislators across the religious divide moved on a contentious matter of religion in a debate that sought, among others, to slap a ban on street preaching, which they say was inflaming religious hatred in the country.

The lawmakers made the call while debating Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebaggala’s statement on the inflammatory “Innocence of Muslims” video, which sparked off deadly protests across the Muslim world in recent weeks.

“There are people on the streets with Bibles they cannot even read. They are unemployed, and are looking for jobs because they want to survive,” Alex Ruhunda (Fort Portal Municipality) said. “We need to control these people before it’s too late. We cannot allow people who abuse other peoples’ religions; this will cause chaos in the country.”

While Parliament appeared united in pushing the government to ban disruptive street preachers, Prof. Simeon Kayiwa of Namirembe Christian Fellowship Church yesterday said any prohibition would be a direct infringement on the constitutional right which guarantees freedom of religion. “Open air preaching is an ancient Christian practice and shouldn’t be banned,” Prof. Kayiwa said.

In the statement, Mr Ssebaggala asked the government to condemn the anti-Islam crusaders and restrain those who are promoting religious hatred by inciting Muslims using cartoons, novels and films.

Presenting the statement on behalf of the Muslim Caucus in Parliament, he also asked government to grant Muslims permission to stage a peaceful demonstration against the video. But the deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali asked aggrieved Muslims to seek permission from Internal Affairs and asked Ugandans to notify police whenever they get people who insult other people’s religions.

Parliament did not take a decision on the matter but thanked Muslims in Uganda for keeping peaceful and asked the government to ensure that street preachers do not plunge the country into chaos.

Evolution of the roadside man of God

Posted by EMMA IKWAP

on  Sunday, August 26  2012 at  01:00

Street preachers are not a new sight on roads in major towns and especially on the streets of Kampala. However, over the years they have devised means to appeal more to their audience.

They are the noisy menaces who shout their voices hoarse straight into your ears as you wait for the lights to turn green along Kampala’s hot streets. They appeared out of nowhere a few years ago, like weeds sprouting in a garden. They did not seem like they were going to stay long…but stay long they did. Now they are a signature sight on the streets.

Though they are still here, Kampala’s street preachers have not remained the same. They have been changing, mutating in a way that seems to suggest they read the market (we the sinners) like a businessperson reads their clientele and then change accordingly, in their quest for souls.

It is these changes that one may argue have helped them retain a sense of relevance, and hence, be able to stand by the road and shout the gospel at you, year in year out, without losing the novelty.

The changes are small, almost negligible alterations, from basic things like the way they preach, to the way they dress and just the way they carry themselves around while at it. One of the very first changes is that street preachers have simply become too many, they are everywhere, at every traffic light, every roundabout and generally anywhere they are likely to run into people. They did not use to so many. Why? Because street preaching did not pay before. Now it is a job, with street preachers attached to certain churches, earning stipends for every sunshine-beaten-minute they spend screaming out the gospel.

Pastor Joseph Sserwadda, the presiding apostle at Born Again Faith in Uganda, says, “Those days, most of them went to the street to preach without receiving any form of support. So nowadays, we pay them not only to inspire them and to also help them since most of them have no job, but also to support them on transport.”

Pastor John Okiror, from Jesus Christ Ministries, Kabalagala, says, “They are supported by their respective churches, which facilitate them by either provision of transport and lunch, or pay them at the end of the months.” Some are provided with things like a bottle of water and sound devices, he adds.

However, he says, not all of them are given facilitation since some churches are not very well off.

In fact, Joshua Okodel, a preacher on Entebbe Road, says, he does preaching out of his own will and only depends of tips from listeners who hear his gospel.

Smart preacher

Preachers early on struck you with a disgustingly shabby look. They seemed to dress regardless of who cared to watch. Hanging shirts, stained clothes, unpolished old shoes, shoes without socks – the whole lot.

Fine, many of them still look shabby, but there is a remarkable improvement. A street preacher today can dress as sharply as a bank teller can. They strike you with that pointed black shinning pair of shoes, sharply protruding from a well-pressed pair of trousers, with a neat shirt and tie to boot – the makings of a corporate look.

So today, when a street preacher pauses by your car door for a few doses of scripture, he looks just like the client you are rushing to meet. And you are forced to listen. Patrick, a street preacher in Kikuubo, says, some of his colleagues sweated and became irritating to the public, but continued preaching. Most of them were broke, he adds, hence why they dressed they way they did.

Pulpits and sound devices

Street preachers never used sound devices like microphones and loud speakers. They walked around, back and forth on the concrete, with Bibles in arms as they preached. Now they have the luxury of leaning on a pole, and speaking into a microphone for the speaker to boost their voices even farther. In fact, many now even place a wooden pulpit by the roadside, place a Bible on its plate, and theN go ahead to preach as if they are doing it at a church service.

Some of the other changes are in simple acts like how the preacher reaches out to their audience. Chances are you have met a street preacher whose business seems to simply guilt-trip you for owning a car. “All those cars won’t save you on judgment day,” they say, as if it is their business that you own a car. Some, however, have moved to engage their audiences on more congenial front, say by telling them of just how deep God’s love is for them.

Some preachers, say along Namirembe Road, now carry young children along, and then proceed to make a tag team of preachers, with the adult speaking in Luganda, and the child translates into English. It can even get dramatic, when the adult preacher finds themselves having to correct the toddler on what to say. Street preaching keeps changing. Only God knows what trick they will next pull out of their bags.

Street preachers are not a new sight on roads in major towns and especially on the streets of Kampala. However, over the years they have devised means to appeal more to their audience.