Bahá'í Faith in Chad

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Though the Bahá'í Faith in Chad began after its independence in 1960 members of the religion were present in associated territories since 1953.[1][2] The Bahá'ís of Chad elected their first National Spiritual Assembly in 1971.[3] Through succeeding decades Bahá'ís have been active in a number of ways and by some counts have become the third largest international religion in Chad with over 80300 members by 2000[4] and 96800 in 2005.[5]

Early phase[edit]

Before independence the region of Chad was part of the French Equatorial Africa (as well as modern day Congo, Central Africa, and Gabon.) The first pioneers in the region were Max Kinyerezi who settled in what was then French Equatorial Africa (specifically in the area later part of Republic of the Congo),[1] and Samson Mungono in the Belgian Congo (some other parts of which later became part of Chad); both arrived in 1953 from expansion of the Bahá'í Faith in Uganda[2] in the same trip that delivered Enoch Olinga to British Cameroon.[6] The Bahá'ís organized these and neighboring areas into the regional National Spiritual Assembly of central and eastern Africa in 1956 - including Uganda, Tanganyika, Kenya, Belgian Congo, Ruanda-Urundi, French Equatorial Africa, Zanzibar, Comoro Is, Seychelles and Chagos Archipelago.[7] However once Chad was politically independent none of the territory specific to Chad had a Baha'i in it until 1961.[8][9] The first Bahá'í in Chad was Cleophas K. Vava in what was then called Fort Lamy, the capital.[10] About November 1962 the national spiritual assembly of Central and West Africa was claiming over 14,000 people almost all of whom were not in Chad.[11] The situation changed little when the regional assembly associations were changed in 1963 to align Chad with Uganda and other central African countries.[12] Early pioneers were Dempsey and Adrienne Morgan arrived in December 1967.[13] The first native Chadian Bahá'í, Ernest Nbouba, converted early in 1968.[14] By Ridván 1968 there were 7 Chadian Bahá'ís and two pioneers so a local assembly was elected.[13] By 1969 the community had jumped to almost 1200 Bahá'ís and thirteen assemblies among 63 localities Bahá'ís were to be found in. There are anecdotes of a student returning home from Cameroon where he had heard of the religion and converted in Chad at the beginning of summer 1970. When he moved to Bongor in October to continue his studies he successfully spread his new religion among his fellow students and the growth extended into the city to become an area of six assemblies and over 125 Bahá'ís by April 1971.[13]

Growth[edit]

Following the death of Shoghi Effendi, the elected Universal House of Justice was head of the religion and began to re-organized the Bahá'í communities of Africa by splitting off regional national communities to form their own National Assemblies from 1967 though the 1990s.[15] The Bahá'í community was much stimulated by the arrival of the first Hand of the Cause to visit Chad, Rúhíyyih Khanum who had been crossing Africa from east to west visiting many country's communities including Chad. She arrived by way of Bangui in February 1970, on the tenth anniversary of Chad's independence, to Fort Lamy and visited there and in the villages of Gassi and Djari. During the two weeks visit she met with mostly individuals and institutions of the religion. In Gassi she helped dedicate the Bahá'í center being built. From Chad Khanum traveled into Cameroon.[16] Two developments following her trip were the participation of Chad Bahá'ís in the first regional national convention of central Africa held in Bangui[17] (Uganda splitting off its own national assembly in 1970)[18] and second, the Bahá'ís of Chad attempted to be registered with the federal government but it turned out the government had no procedure to register a new religion organizing in the country.[19] Chad delegates to the regional convention arrived in time for pre-convention classes and saw Hand of the Cause Abu'l-Qásim Faizi who represented the Universal House of Justice.[17] Consultation at the convention noted the fast growth of the religion in Chad and Faizi appointed Adrienne Morgan as an Auxiliary Board Member. Back in Chad and the pursuit of official recognition from the government, Dr. Aziz Navidi, a lawyer and pioneer, representing the Universal House of Justice, assisted by sharing information about the world wide character of the religion to the authorities while appeals were processed by the community and government which was finally brought to the attention of then President, François Tombalbaye. Following this success in February the community gather in convention for the election of its first National Spiritual Assembly in April 1971 which was attended by Enoch Olinga who was himself then appointed as a Hand of the Cause.[3] The convention was held in Gassi outside of Fort Lamy in part because a village chief had joined the religion and provided a large meeting space for the convention.[13] An anecdote told by Olinga at the convention captured the need for the fast growing community's need to study their new religion and understand it personally. He compared the need for daily prayer with the need for daily food. We don't wait for someone else to eat for us, nor should be wait for someone else to pray for us. The community of the religion in Fort Lamy was then counted at over one thousand[19] while the community across Chad was characterized as being ninety-six local spiritual assemblies among the 300 localities with Bahá'ís who had swollen to more than 8000.[13] The second national convention held two days of classes for the delegates to understand the process and purpose of convention, of the national assembly, and their role as delegates and those of officers of the convention (which they too elect.)[20] The Bahá'ís of Gassi had already formed a children's Bahá'í school while land for nine Bahá'í centers was donated at the convention and the consultation of the delegates focused on the need to French-speaking pioneers who understood the religion especially in outlying areas. In December 1971 bus loads and cars of youth came from Chad and the Central African Republic to Cameroon who hosted the first regional African youth conference.[21]

Map of Chad

In 1972 (and again in 1974)[22] the Bahá'ís of Chad celebrated the first United Nations Day of Chad. The public meeting held at the national Bahá'í center with the cooperation of United Nations Development Program Resident Representative featured an assistant of the UN Representative who spoke and offered literature while a Bahá'í spoke of the Bahá'í teachings - the event was covered by print and radio media in Chad and 50 people attended the meeting.[23] The third national convention was held in Sarh in southern Chad where the mayor had donate use of the city's municipal center.[24] In 1974 prayers were published translated into Massa, Ngambay and Kanuri languages.[25] In October 1976 the Bahá'ís held a national conference on the progress of the religion as part of a wave of such conferences across the world.[26] Following the conference waves of traveling Bahá'ís, some from Iran, brought the religion to villages as well as offering institutes to promote understanding of the religion and classes for children.[27] In January 1977 the Bahá'ís in Sahr held a conference for women at which only 12 of the 40 participants were Bahá'ís following which a wave of conversions included half women. Other conferences continued through summer 1977.[28] The community of Chad avoided being banned as part of a sweep across several Sub-Saharan countries.[29] Chad was one of the countries Bahá'í organized a series of events in honor of the International Year of the Child, 1979.[30] A Bahá'í consultant traveled western Africa including Chad assisting communities in their efforts. Though the consultant took ill in Chad, the program developed was the most successful in the region. A children's committee organized institutes for 125 villages and themselves conducted the meetings and produced a set of lesson plans in both French and English that was distributed to other West African communities.[31] In 1981 the national convention was held in Moïssala[32] In 1982 sixty of the local assemblies of Chad were designated as leaders in their regions to help nearby communities organize their religious meetings while at the same time a regional permanent institute was finished in Manda. In 1983 crowd surpassing the seats allotted turns out for a film describing Bahá'í pilgrimage in Moïssala.[33]

Activities of a growing community[edit]

Since its inception the religion has had involvement in socio-economic development beginning by giving greater freedom to women,[34] promulgating the promotion of female education as a priority concern,[35] and that involvement was given practical expression by creating schools, agricultural coops, and clinics.[34] The religion entered a new phase of activity when a message of the Universal House of Justice dated 20 October 1983 was released.[36] Bahá'ís were urged to seek out ways, compatible with the Bahá'í teachings, in which they could become involved in the social and economic development of the communities in which they lived. World-wide in 1979 there were 129 officially recognized Bahá'í socio-economic development projects. By 1987, the number of officially recognized development projects had increased to 1482. There is evidence of activities of the Bahá'í community through from the '80s through 2008 and some by invitation with third parties. Bahá'í youth have mobilized for a number of purposes over the years. Bahá'ís have also been cooperative agents with various agencies and the Bahá'ís started a non-governmental organization devoted to solving local ecological and developmental challenges. See details below. The overall process of advancing development projects gained the a diploma of Participation from the Trade Chamber at the fourth International Fair of Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa (later renamed the Economic Community of Central African States).[37]

  • Since the United Nations established the International Youth Year (IYY) in 1979 and in successive years plans have evolved for promoting the constructive action of youth. In 1985 Bahá'í youth in Chad mobilized to alleviate the suffering of thousands afflicted by famine by visiting the sick and elderly, preparing food and collected and distributed clothing. A regional youth conference was organized in Sarh with attendance of 200 youth from surrounding localities and planted three hectares of trees in Makiling in support of IYY. To encourage all youth clubs in Chad and their sponsoring local assemblies to undertake activities for IYY, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chad printed and distributed in large quantities of the official Youth Year emblem for all local communities.[38] And Bahá´ís have continued to host United Nations Day as well as adding World Religion Day observances.[39]
  • Begun in Bongor and then moved to Sarh, the APRODEPIT, an acronym for Action pour la Promotion des Ressources des Organisations de Défense de l'Environnement et de la Pisciculture integrée au Tchad (Action for the Promotion of Resources for Organizations Defending the Environment and Integrated Pisciculture in Chad) is a Bahá'í-inspired non-governmental organization, stressing participation and consultation in an effort to promote conservation and community development along the Chari River since 1992.[42]
  • The US Embassy in Chad reported in 2008 that it had hosted an iftar dinner inviting representatives of the Muslim, Christian, and Bahá'í communities.[43]

Modern community[edit]

Long term pioneers are in Chad - some of many years stay[44][45] and others of a short stay.[46] There are Ruhi Institute Study Circles.[46] There are weekly prayer meetings in French held on Saturday afternoons at the Bahá'í Center in N’Djamena.[47] The religion continues to grow through the 1980s[48] establishing schools, libraries, a pharmacy[49] and exhibits on Bahá'í marriage[50] in the name of the religion. Sometimes more people came than could take classes[51] while some of these institutions became self-sustaining.[52]

Demographics[edit]

The World Christian Encyclopedia estimates the Bahá'í population in 2000 to be over 80300,[53] 96845 in 2005[5] and is the third largest internationally organized religion after Islam and Christianity in the country.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Universal House of Justice (1986). "In Memoriam". The Bahá'í World of the Bahá'í Era 136-140 (1979-1983). XVIII (Bahá'í World Centre). pp. Table of Contents and pp.629. ISBN 0-85398-234-1. 
  2. ^ a b Hassall, Graham. "Belgian Congo". Asia Pacific Bahá'í Studies - Country files. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  3. ^ a b Dr. Ahmadi. "Major events of the Century of Light". A Study of the Book “Century of Light”. Association For Bahá’í Studies in Southern Africa. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  4. ^ a b "Country Profile: Chad". Religious Intelligence. Religious Intelligence. Archived from the original on Oct 13, 2007. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  5. ^ a b "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  6. ^ Mughrab, Jan (2004). "Jubilee Celebration in Cameroon". Bahá'í Journal of the Bahá'í Community of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 20 (5). 
  7. ^ Hassall, Graham (2003-08-26). "This note concerns references to Africa in the Bahá'í Writings". Asian/Pacific Collection. Asia Pacific Bahá'í Studies. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  8. ^ Rabbani, Ruhiyyih (Ed.) (1992). The Ministry of the Custodians 1957-1963. Bahá'í World Centre. p. 284. ISBN 0-85398-350-X. 
  9. ^ U.S. State Department (2007-09-14). "International Religious Freedom Report 2007 - Chad". The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affair. Archived from the original on 12 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  10. ^ "Baha'is of Chad Welcome Counsellor Member". Bahá'í News (463): p. 7. October 1969. 
  11. ^ "Mass Conversion in the Congo". Bahá'í News (380): p. 8–9. November 1962. 
  12. ^ "Universal House of Justice Proclaims Second World-Encircling Enterprise". Bahá'í News (393): p. 1–3. December 1963. 
  13. ^ a b c d e "Chad National Convention". Bahá'í News (484): p. 10–11. July 1971. 
  14. ^ Cameron, G.; Momen, W. (1996). A Basic Bahá'í Chronology. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. p. 375. ISBN 0-85398-404-2. 
  15. ^ National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South Africa (1997). "Bahá'ís in South Africa - Progress of the Bahá'í Faith in South Africa since 1911". Official Website. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South Africa. Archived from the original on 8 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-19. 
  16. ^ "Hand of the Cause of God Rúhíyyih Khanum Travels Six Thousand Miles Across Africa". Bahá'í News (209): p. 3–18. June 1970. 
  17. ^ a b "First National Convention Central Africa". Bahá'í News (473): p. 20. August 1970. 
  18. ^ "Announcements from The Universal House of Justice". Bahá'í News (463): p. 20. October 1969. 
  19. ^ a b "Faith Receives Official Recognition in Chad and the Central African Republic". Bahá'í News (482): p. 7. May 1971. 
  20. ^ "Second National Convention of Chad". Bahá'í News (497): p. 14. September 1972. 
  21. ^ "Central African Youth Conference". Bahá'í News (464): p. 13/24. November 1969. 
  22. ^ "UN Day / Human Rights Day; Bahá'í celebrations around the world; Slide presentations (section mentioning Chad)". Bahá'í News (526): p. 13. January 1975. 
  23. ^ "Baha'is Around the World Observe United Nations Day, 1972; Chad". Bahá'í News (503): p. 21. February 1973. 
  24. ^ "Chad National Convention". Bahá'í News (510): p. 21. September 1973. 
  25. ^ "Around the World; Chad; Prayers now available in three new languages". Bahá'í News (525): p. 8. December 1974. 
  26. ^ "International Teaching Conferences". Bahá'í News (544): p. 4. July 1976. 
  27. ^ "Around the World; Chad; Expansion of Faith evident". Bahá'í News (549): p. 4–5. December 1976. 
  28. ^ "Around the World; Chad; Faith progresses through teaching, classes". Bahá'í News (555): p. 11. June 1977. 
  29. ^ Smith, Peter; Momen, Moojan (1989). "The Baha'i Faith 1957-1988: A Survey of Contemporary Developments". Religion 19 (1): 63–91. doi:10.1016/0048-721X(89)90077-8. 
  30. ^ "IYC report A worldwide round-up of Baha'i activities supporting the International Year of the Child (sections mentioning Cameroon)". Bahá'í News (581): p. 8, 9. July 1980. ISSN 0043-8804. 
  31. ^ "Travels in Africa - The Baha'i International Community's consultant in Africa for IYC spends a busy 10 months on road". Bahá'í News (581): p. 10–15. July 1980. ISSN 0043-8804. 
  32. ^ "Travels in Africa - The Baha'i International Community's consultant in Africa for IYC spends a busy 10 months on road". Bahá'í News (608): p. 12. November 1981. ISSN 0043-8804. 
  33. ^ "The World; Chad". Bahá'í News (629): p. 16. August 1983. ISSN 0043-8804. 
  34. ^ a b Momen, Moojan. "History of the Baha'i Faith in Iran". draft "A Short Encyclopedia of the Baha'i Faith". Bahai-library.com. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  35. ^ Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi (1997). "Education of women and socio-economic development". Baha'i Studies Review 7 (1). 
  36. ^ Momen, Moojan; Smith, Peter (1989). "The Baha'i Faith 1957–1988: A Survey of Contemporary Developments". Religion 19: 63–91. doi:10.1016/0048-721X(89)90077-8. 
  37. ^ "The World; Chad". Bahá'í News (688): p. 12. July 1988. 
  38. ^ Bahá'í International Community (1986-06-03). "Report of Baha'i International Community activities in support of the United Nations International Youth Year". Statement and Reports of the Bahá'í International Community. Bahá'í International Community. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  39. ^ "The World; Chad". Bahá'í News (678): p. 4. September 1987. 
  40. ^ Bahá'í International Community (1986-06-03). "Activities in Support of International Literacy Year - 1990". Statement and Reports of the Bahá'í International Community. Bahá'í International Community. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  41. ^ "News briefs". News General News NEWS BRIEFS. The Baha'i Faith Index. 1997-07-01. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  42. ^ Bahá'í International Community (January–March 2004). "In Chad, a project to promote sustainable fishing yields extra dividends". One Country 15 (4). 
  43. ^ U.S. State Department (2008-09-14). "2008 Report on International Religious Freedom - Chad". The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affair. Archived from the original on 12 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  44. ^ Stock, Curtis (2003-03-06). "Adopted African winds his way to CFL". The Edmonton Journal. 
  45. ^ Lani Steele and Gary Mickle (2002-08-31). "TSISMIS (GOSSIP AND TIDBITS) FROM TCHAD". Tsismis (Gossip and Tidbits) 01 (1). 
  46. ^ a b Byrne, Bryony (2002-11-319). "News from Pioneers". Pioneer Post UK 16 (2).  [dead link]
  47. ^ "Post Reports - Chad". eDiplomat. U.S. Department of State. 2003-12-08. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  48. ^ "Around the World; Chad". Bahá'í News (637): p. 14. April 1984. 
  49. ^ "Social/economic development Number of projects growing rapidly; Africa; Chad". Bahá'í News (637): p. 2–3. March 1986. 
  50. ^ "The World; Chad". Bahá'í News (660): p. 15. March 1986. 
  51. ^ "The World; Chad". Bahá'í News (665): p. 16. August 1986. 
  52. ^ "Development; A look at programs around the world; Africa; Education (section mentioning Chad)". Bahá'í News (685): p. 16. April 1988. 
  53. ^ "Top 20 Largest National Baha'i Populations". Adherents.com. Adherents.com. 2008. Archived from the original on 19 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 

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