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Friday, December 7, 2007

Ministry with Youth Mission

Since the Biblical days, the Levites have been regarded as priests, perhaps that is why LVC members have remained faithful in “taking the gospel to the streets through holy hip-hop,” writes Dennis D. Muhumuza

"If a Levite moves from one of your towns anywhere in Israel where he is living, and comes in all earnestness to the place the Lord will choose," says the Bible, "he may minister in the name of the Lord his God like all his fellow Levites who serve there in the presence of the Lord." Since the biblical days, the Levites have been regarded as priests, perhaps that is why LVC members have remained faithful in "taking the gospel to the streets through holy hip-hop."

LVC is an acronym for the Levite Clan, a music ministry with a mission to reach out to urban youths. It was founded in 2003 by Richard Tumukunde (Renee Emcee) Jared Ombui (Jehra'da Kobla, a Kenyan), Ivan Wobusobozi (No Hell 01), then Mass Ccommunication students of Makerere University. Jacob Noowe (Storm) joined the group later.

Rapping in English and Kiswahili, the group fuses rhymes in a style reminiscent of the late gangster a rapper Tupac Shakur. Their popular debut single, No Gay, drew inspiration from Leviticus 18:22 (A man shall not sleep with a fellow man as with womankind, it is abomination) against the backdrop of the homosexual saga in the Anglican Church of America. It's a trumpet call to gay people to turn from their sin and embrace salvation through Christ.

The second single, Ni Yesu, stresses the power and sovereignty of Jesus while Thug's Mansion reaffirms the message of salvation through Jesus alone and God's promise of bliss in heaven for those who put their faith in Him.

Other hits such as Amazing Love, Abstain, Jerusalem, Walk In The Light, Revival and Is God Really Good enjoy airplay on Christian FM radio stations. In store also, are 36 tracks yet to be released.

"We are on the verge of concluding a deal with our Foreign Director Terry Berkeley from 12 Strings Records in West Virginia where we hope to fly for a music festival before the end of the year," says No Hell01.

"Our music gives us a chance to enter into the private lives of young people who admire us as role models," says Jahra. "Urban youth are our target audience because hip-hop is the language they speak."

"The hip-hop on our streets is junk and leaves a trail of youth with no attitude or self respect and honour for God. We are offering a perfect alternative to the 50 Cent in their CD Changer," adds Renee Emcee

Wearing oversize t-shirts, baggy jeans, armbands, bandanas, and baseball caps, the Levites look like the bad boys in most American music videos.

"We can rock slang without being vulgar or offensive and can be entertaining without hindering the Holy Ghost," is how they justify their outlook.

They are popular performers during Gospel Night at TLC, and have ministered at Sabrinas pub during hip-hop night. The group has also ministered in schools, universities, churches, and at youth conferences and parties.

"A lot of people have looked to the east or west for revival, may be it's gonna come from our beat for Jesus," says Jahra. "We spend a lot of time praying for revival in this world."

There is a strong fallacy that hip-hop is alien here but according to Renee Mc, "Today's young people grow up feeding on the philosophy of thug mentality after watching lots of Eminem music videos."

"I too was once into drugs after I heard Tupac sing about smoking weed everyday. I formed the Anti Bitch Club (ABC) because Tupac called women bitches," he says. "So I'm taking what the devil tried to use to destroy me and I'm using it to save lives."

"We are not into this for money otherwise we would put in afro-beat and be rich like Kleptomaniax," says No Hell01. "The Lord has set a certain roadmap for us that we must follow to the dot."

With the blessing of their spiritual mentor and country director Mrs Rita Egonda, LVC say they have prevailed against the enemy.

"We are abstaining from sex until marriage and we encourage our fans to do likewise," says Jahra.

"And if nobody wants to major in purity, we are gonna do it with our very teeth, we ain't ashamed to say some of us are still virgins," says Storm.

"Hommie, if you love your youth this much, then it is time to be radical for Christ," says Renee MC.

Reading onto the future, the foursome see themselves establishing a recording studio and building headquarters for the ministry.

Published in Sunday Monitor, 29 Oct. 2006