Culture The Beauty of Africa

The Intriguing History of Africa’s Only Bahá’i Temple in Uganda

Written by See Africa Today

The Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, or ‘Mother Temple of Africa’, is the only Bahá’i Temple in the continent and one of only nine in the world. The hilltop shrine is about two miles outside of Uganda’s capital city of Kampala.

It’s unclear why Uganda was chosen to have the first African temple, given the vast numbers of adherents in neighboring nations like Chad and Kenya.

History of Bahá’i Temple in Uganda

Bahá’s from the United Kingdom and Iran first arrived in Uganda in 1951 to spread the religion’s teachings, according to historical records.

Over 100 Bahá’u’lláhs were active in Uganda in 1952. Few years later, the early converts spread their faith over North America. As a celebration of this anniversary, the Bahá’ Intercontinental Conference for Africa was convened in Kampala six years later to honor the occasion.

Bahá’i Faith Origin

It was formed in 1844 by Mrzá usayn-‘Ali Nr, who was born in Persia, present-day Iran, and became known as the Bahá’u’lláh. “The splendor of God” is the Arabic translation of the name Baha’u’lláh.

Bahá'i Temple in Uganda

Bahá’i Temple in Uganda. Photo/Culture Trip

Bahá’u’lláh’s adherents are known as Bahá’is, and their religion aims to unite people of all ethnicities. The teachings of the Bahá’ faith emphasize the importance of human rights as a foundation for instilling a deep sense of humanity in the next generation. Many Ugandans became Bahá’is because of this belief.

Why is Bahá’i Temple The Only One in Africa?

The Mother Temple of Africa has been welcoming believers and non-believers alike for more than half a century and continues to do so today. Bahá’ temples can be found in only nine countries: Chile, the United States, Germany, Panama, the Samoan Islands, India, Australia, and Cambodia.

The architecture of Bahá’u’lláh’s temples around the world combines traditional, spiritual, and artistic elements. Designed like a traditional African house, Africa’s lone temple is the only one in Africa. As a symbol of the holy circle and sacred bounds, the dome-like shape represents paradise on earth.

When Was Bahá’i Temple Constructed?

At the time of its construction, it was the highest building in East Africa at about 38 meters (125 ft). In order to withstand the seasonal winds and heavy rains, it includes a circular covered porch on the lowest level of the building.

Inside the dome is painted blue, with a blue and green mosaic on the inside. More than 400 people can be accommodated at a time.

In the temple, you feel a sense of serenity and tranquility that allows you to forget about everything that is going on around you.

Culture Trip was given a tour of the Mother Temple by Eric Wafula, a Bahá’ and a guide, who discussed what makes the Bahá’ faith distinctive. According to their sacred prayer book, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Muslims are required to pray three times a day at the very least.

He wrote it in 1873, and it comprises all the rules and regulations by which Baha’i adherents are expected to conduct themselves.

Wafula further clarified that the Bahá’s do not adhere to a certain holy day of the week for their gatherings. Instead, the Bahá’ community has the option of choosing a day that works best for them.

On Sundays, worshippers in Kampala visit the temple. Similarly, there is no prescribed dress code, although Christians are required to dress modestly at all times in their lives.

About 100 people visit the temple every Sunday in Kampala.

What’s intriguing About Bahá’i Temple?

Bahá’i Temple in Uganda. Photo/Culture Trip

Twin Holy Birthdays, are two successive days marking the births of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb. They are the most prominent figures in the Bahá’ religion, draw a large crowd to the temple.

In the months of October or November – these two Holy Birthdays are observed. There are a total of eleven holy days in the Jewish calendar

When youngsters reach the age of 15, they can proclaim their beliefs and get declaration cards instead of being baptized. Wafula adds: “The same holds true for new converts.”

In addition to the Mother Temple in Kampala, Uganda has over ten more Bahá’ centers for individuals who are unable to attend.

Followers of the faith as well as those who are simply inquisitive are welcome to visit Africa’s only Baha’i Temple. Beautiful gardens surround the temple, providing a lovely perspective of the surroundings. It’s also an excellent site to see some of the area’s lovely native birds.

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About the author

See Africa Today

Pharis Kinyua is the editor of See Africa Today. With over seven years of experience in digital media, he has a soft spot for African tours and travel. His drive is to tell the rest of the world what Africa offers, the best accommodation facilities, national parks, culture, shopping malls and best airline deals to travel to Africa

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