What Sauti Sol Believes About God
Did you know the sensational Kenyan boy band Sauti Sol has a gospel song in their latest album, Live and Die in Afrika?
Maybe not, but they have a song that seems to talk about God in the way many local gospel songs do. The song “Kuliko Jana” (More than Yesterday) is a ballad about how much God loves me. The basic message of the chorus is: “God loves me today more than He did yesterday.”
From this line and the rest of the song, several things emerge about Sauti Sol’s theology. If the words of this song are anything to go by, we can learn several things about what the person who wrote them believes about God.
But before I proceed, what would possibly be the point of this little task? There are many points, but I will only mention one for the sake of relevance. Many Christians who find it difficult to let go of non-Christian and blatantly blasphemous music perk up whenever they hear their favorite secular artist belt out a tune about God.
For some reason, we feel we finally have the license to sing along to a Sauti Sol song because it is talking about God. And what could possibly be wrong with that? Shouldn’t we always support the worship and praise of our God whenever we find it?
Sounds noble enough. Except for the little problem of the fact that Sauti Sol are not actually singing about the God of the Bible in their song! I will spend the rest of this post proving just this.
The following is a rough translation of the lyrics into English:
The Lord is my savior,
And He is my leader,
He loves me today more than yesterday,
His blessings have no end,
He is not like man He doesn’t change,
He loves me today more than yesterday.
I pray to you God, forgive them,
If they knew how much you loved me,
They would not gossip about me,
I pray for my enemies, grant them a long life
So that they can witness you blessing me,
Human beings are so astonishing,
They denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed,
They crucified the Messiah.
You are the one I depend on,
Please remove whatever may stand in the way of my getting into heaven.
From these lyrics, we learn several things about the God that Sauti Sol believes in and we also learn some things about what Sauti Sol wants from this God.
First, there is a lot of pseudo-biblical language in this song. This is probably the inevitable product of growing up in a “Christian Culture” where some biblical expressions are part of the local lingo. Yet the use of bible phrases is not always evidence that a culture is more Christian or even reverent. The expression “Jesus Christ!” used as an exclamation is actually considered a curse and therefore blasphemous.
Bible phrases in language are a poor indicator of the holiness of a culture.
In the same way, the fact that we call some well meaning people “good Samaritans” says little about our personal understanding and application of the parable that is the origin of that phrase. It says even less about our relationship with the person who told the parable.
So, Sauti Sol’s reference to “the Lord is my savior” says little about their faith. “God, forgive them” says little about what Jesus uttering those words on the Cross means to them, and the fact that they refer to people denying Jesus “three times before the cock crowed” says nothing about what they think about the implications of denying Jesus.
In fact, I believe that the best evidence for what Sauti Sol believes about God is not found in the parts where they allude to the bible, but in the parts where they apply their understanding of God to their circumstances. Here are a few examples from the song.
- Sauti Sol believes that if people knew how much God loved them, they would not speak ill of them. But Jesus says that it is because people know how much God loves those who believe in Him that they speak such vile words about them.
- Sauti Sol believes that we should pray for our enemies to live long enough for them to see God blessing us (and proving them wrong?) But Jesus says we should pray for our enemies to repent and be saved. In fact, Jesus wants us to pray for our enemies to live long enough to get a chance to know God and be blessed with eternal life.
- Sauti Sol wants to get into heaven and God is able to remove any obstacles between now and heaven. This is technically true. God is the only one who can get is into heaven. But we are never commanded to pray that we will go to heaven, we are commanded to pray that we will be made right with God. Heaven is a reward for those who have pursued God and the holiness that He requires from us. We ought to aim for God and we will get heaven thrown in. God is not a means to heaven, He is the point of heaven.
So what does Sauti Sol believe about God? From this song, we can say that they believe a bunch of stuff about some God. But whether or not this is the God of the Bible is up for the listener (and reader) to decide. To me, this one song, the other songs that Sauti Sol have sung and the kind of lifestyle they seem to live all point to a different God from the one I worship.
And for this reason, I find it impossible to enjoy this song as an ode to my Father in heaven.