I’ve had the opportunity recently to talk with a couple of writer friends about my experiences as an LDS missionary in Kenya. You can read their resultant articles online: “Comparing Broadway’s ‘Mormon’ Hit to LDS Missionary Reality” on jweekly.com and “African Saints find hope in the gospel (and perform Book of Mormon productions of their own)” on ldsliving.com.
As implied in the article titles, the interest in my experience has partly come about with the recent Broadway opening of The Book of Mormon, a critically-acclaimed musical which tells the story of two Mormon missionaries encountering life in rural Uganda. There seems to be a lot of curiosity among Latter-day Saints about how realistically the show, imagined by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, portrays their Church and missionaries.
I haven’t seen The Book of Mormon, but I did listen to the entire soundtrack before these recent interviews (this is, by the way, far more exposure to the musical than I would recommend for 95% of the people I know, due to the very pervasive and very strong language). My thoughts on how well what I heard seemed to correspond with my own experience are summed up pretty well in these articles.
The one issue I haven’t heard much discussion on yet is how accurately Africa, and rural Uganda specifically, is portrayed. It seems that the Africans in the story are caricatured just as much as the missionary characters. As I’ve been quoted, it is probably unreasonable—paradoxical, even—to expect strict accuracy in a Broadway musical, but it’s interesting to me how much I’ve heard the one portrayal questioned, but not the other. This is most likely because I live among a lot more Mormons than Africans these days; a quick Google search does turn up some conversation on the subject, in posts like these: