Bahá'í Faith in Angola
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The Bahá'í Faith in Angola begins after `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote letters encouraging taking the religion to Africa in 1916. The first Bahá'í pioneered to Angola about 1952. By 1963 there was a Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly in Luanda and smaller groups of Bahá'ís in other cities. In 1992 the Bahá'ís of Angola elected their first National Spiritual Assembly. The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying mostly on the World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 2,000 Bahá'ís in 2005.
`Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets of the Divine Plan
`Abdu'l-Bahá wrote a series of letters, or tablets, to the followers of the religion in the United States in 1916-1917; these letters were compiled together in the book Tablets of the Divine Plan. The eighth and twelfth of the tablets mentioned Africa and were written on April 19, 1916 and February 15, 1917, respectively. Publication however was delayed in the United States until 1919—after the end of the First World War and the Spanish flu. The tablets were translated and presented by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab on April 4, 1919, and published in Star of the West magazine on December 12, 1919. `Abdu'l-Bahá mentions Bahá'ís traveling "…especially from America to Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, and travel through Japan and China. Likewise, from Germany teachers and believers may travel to the continents of America, Africa, Japan and China; in brief, they may travel through all the continents and islands of the globe" and " …the anthem of the oneness of the world of humanity may confer a new life upon all the children of men, and the tabernacle of universal peace be pitched on the apex of America; thus Europe and Africa may become vivified with the breaths of the Holy Spirit, this world may become another world, the body politic may attain to a new exhilaration…."
Establishment of the community
By early 1952, a Bahá'í pioneer had arrived in Angola. In 1953 Shoghi Effendi, head of the religion after the death of `Abdu'l-Bahá, planned an international teaching plan termed the Ten Year Crusade. During the plan pioneers moved to many countries including Angola from places like East Timor. This was during a period of wide scale growth in the religion across Sub-Saharan Africa near the end of the period of Colonisation of Africa.
In April 1956 the Bahá'í Faith was present in small numbers across 15 countries of southern Africa. To administer these communities a regional National Spiritual Assembly was elected in South West Africa to cover them. An election of a Local Spiritual Assembly in Luanda was attempted in 1954 and successfully in 1956. By 1963 an assembly was known in Luanda and smaller groups of Bahá'ís were in Malange and Nova Gaia.
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, including Angola, by splitting off national communities to form their own National Assemblies from 1964 though the 1990s. In 1964 one of the interim regional national assemblies - of South and West Africa - had some 3,600 Bahá'ís and 36 local assemblies. From 1977 to 1992 Angola and Mozambique shared a regional national assembly. In 1992 the Bahá'ís of Angola elected their first National Spiritual Assembly, witnessed by Counsellour Rolf von Czekus, representing the Universal House of Justice at the proceedings.
Since its inception the religion has had involvement in socio-economic development beginning by giving greater freedom to women, promulgating the promotion of female education as a priority concern, and that involvement was given practical expression by creating schools, agricultural coops, and clinics. The religion entered a new phase of activity when a message of the Universal House of Justice dated 20 October 1983 was released. 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. The Angolan Bahá'ís at the local Centre in Luanda hosted an interfaith prayer gathering to mark the opening of the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, which was held at the United Nations August 2000. Nine Bahá’ís from Angola were among the thousand who gathered for a regional conference called for by the Universal House of Justice to be held in Lubumbashi, Congo, in November 2008. Others traveled to the regional conference held in Johannesburg South Africa.
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- Effendi, Shoghi (1971). Messages to the Bahá'í World, 1950-1957. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 27. ISBN 0-87743-036-5.
- Compiled by Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land. "The Bahá'í Faith: 1844-1963: Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Bahá'í Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953-1963". pp. 25, 56.
- Universal House of Justice (1992). "Ridván Letter, 1992". Ridvan Messages from the Universal House of Justice. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2008-05-04.
- "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
- Abbas, `Abdu'l-Bahá (April 1919). Tablets, Instructions and Words of Explanation. Mirza Ahmad Sohrab (trans. and comments).
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- 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.
- Vreeland, Claire; Graham Hassall (1994). "Harold and Florence Fitzner: Knights of Bahá'u'lláh to Portuguese Timor". And the trees clapped their hands : stories of Bahá'í pioneers. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 320–332. ISBN 978-0-85398-378-1.
- "Overview Of World Religions". General Essay on the Religions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Division of Religion and Philosophy, University of Cumbria. Retrieved 2008-04-16.
- "Pioneer Letters". Bahá'í News. No. 281. July 1954. pp. 6–7.
- "National Assembly marks silver jubilee". Bahá'í News. No. 608. November 1981. pp. 8–10. ISSN 0195-9212.
- 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.
- Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi (1997). "Education of women and socio-economic development". Baha'i Studies Review. 7 (1).
- Momen, Moojan; Smith, Peter (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.
- Bahá'í International Community (2000-09-17). "Baha'is around the world host interfaith prayers for peace". Bahá'í International News Service.
- Bahá'í International Community (2008-11-23). "The Lubumbashi Regional Conference". Bahá'í International News Service.
- Bahá'í International Community (2008-11-11). "Big turnout for regional Baha'i conferences". Bahá'í International News Service.