Uganda’s preachers who take religion to the streets of Kampala

With the aid of a loud speaker, Kayemba Stephen’s voice booms out above the noise of the traffic and bustle as people make their way to work in this busiest part of Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

“Receive Jesus today!” the preacher, known on the streets as Sulphur Teacher, urges passers-by with a swagger as if he believes everyone is closely listening to what he has to say.

Some hurry on, others stop and stare, and enthusiasts join in, shouting “hallelujah” and “amen” in response.

His work – as well as that of the many other street evangelists – has been the subject of debate in the city, as the authorities have proposed ways to tidy up the capital.

A woman speaking into a microphone

Auma Laura, another member of this group, takes up the microphone, praying and speaking in tongues.

There is a rasping quality to the 28-year-old’s voice as if the daily hour of preaching is catching up with her.

But the young woman, who works in customer relations in a bank, is not deterred.

“I see God using me. I see myself praying for the sick and they get healed, so I cannot stop now,” she tells the BBC.

A preaching group in Uganda

“Uganda is for God,” the preachers declare as some kneel down in fervour.

Others come forward to be blessed.

A man being blessed

Uganda is a deeply religious country and last month, when senior Kampala official Hudu Hussein was reported to have said that the missionaries had a month to leave the streets, there was an outcry.

He later said he was misquoted and did not wish to “make war with God”. But he wanted preachers not to harass people in their vehicles “or erect loud speakers where their voice would be enough”.

But it is unlikely that the city’s street clergy will be put off.

“I love the streets, I love engaging people. We have been doing this every morning since 2 January, and we hope to carry on throughout the year,” says Janet Musisi, who co-ordinates this group.

Man talking to a passer-by

Computer engineer Pius Eritu, 28, has been, in his words, “winning souls” on the streets for the past three years.

A few people are rude, but he has learned to ignore the negatives and carry on, he says.

A man blessing two passers-by
A man preaching on the street

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