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Top Kenyan Scholar Immortalizes Singer Juliani In New Book About The Gospel Industry

Juliani will forever be linked to the growth of urban-contemporary gospel music. This fact was recognized by Dr Mwenda Ntarangwi who studied Juliani’s  stint in the music industry and compiled his finding in a book dubbed The Street Is My Pulpit.

In the book, Dr Ntarangwi  shows that Julius Owino, aka Juliani, blends faith and beats into a potent hip hop gospel aimed at a youth culture hungry for answers spiritual, material, and otherwise.

According to an online description of the book, Mwenda Ntarangwi explores the Kenyan hip hop scene through the lens of Juliani’s life and career. A born-again Christian, Juliani produces work highlighting the tensions between hip hop’s forceful self-expression and a pious approach to public life, even while contesting the basic presumptions of both.

In The Street Is My Pulpit, Ntarangwi forges an uncommon collaboration with his subject that offers insights into Juliani’s art and goals even as Ntarangwi explores his own religious experience and subjective identity as an ethnographer.

What emerges is an original contribution to the scholarship on hip hop’s global impact and a passionate study of the music’s role in shaping new ways of being Christian in Africa.

One of Juliani’s good friends, TV personality Larry Madowo wrote a forward for the book.

He says, “I’ve known Juliani for a long time so I was honoured when Dr Mwenda Ntarangwi asked me to write something small about him when we bumped into each other in Detroit a few years ago. Mwenda wrote an excellent book about an extraordinary artist. It will soon be available in Kenyan bookstores. If you can’t wait, it’s available on Amazon.”

Here are some reviews of the book by top African scholars.

“A remarkably imaginative and personalized approach to popular music and youth culture, which sheds fascinating light on Kenya’s changing culture, history, politics, and especially Christianity.”–Paul Gifford, author of Christianity, Politics, and Public Life in Kenya

“A very provocative, fascinating, even entertaining peek into the youthful ferment under way in African Christianity.”–Emmanuel Katongole, author of The Sacrifice of Africa: A Political Theology for Africa

“Reading The Street Is My Pulpit is refreshing in diverse ways. It is a lesson on the intersection between creativity and social media in Africa, a continent that is reaping the benefits of information technologies in fundamental ways. The book is also a journey into ethnographic research in the digital age.”–Kimani Njogu, author of Youth and Peaceful Elections in Kenya

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