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from the Chronology

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1953 (In the year) Grant Mensah, a Ghanaian, became a Bahá’í in Ruanda-Urundi, the first person to accept the Faith in that country. Ruanda-Urundi (Burundi) Grant Mensah find reference
1953 May Mary and Reginald (Rex) Collison, an elderly Canadian-American couple, arrived in Ruanda-Urundi (Burundi) from Uganda and were named Knights of Bahá’u’lláh. [BW13:455]
  • For the story of Mary Collison’s life see BW15:486–8 as well as Servants of the Glory page34.
  • Arriving in July was Dunduzu Chisza, a young Baha'i from Malawi, (then Nyasaland) The earliest Rwandan Bahá’í whose name is recorded was Alphonse Semanyenzi. [The Bahá'í Faith in Rwanda website; BWNS349]
  • The first Bahá’í to travel through Rwanda may have been Marthe Molitor c. 1947 after becoming a Bahá'í in Belgium. She moved on to the Belgian Congo. [Taarifa]
  • Ruanda-Urundi (Burundi) Knights of Bahaullah; Mary Collison; Rex Collison; Dunduzu Chisza; Alphonse Semanyenzi; Marthe Molitor
    1953 Jun Dunduzu Chisiza, a Nyasaland student who had recently become a Bahá’í in Uganda, arrived in Ruanda-Urundi (Burundi) and was named a Knight of Bahá’u’lláh. [BW13:455] Ruanda-Urundi (Burundi) Knights of Bahaullah
    1953. Aug The Congo-Belgian colony had its first believers, identified under the term “The Spiritual Sowers”. The story begins with Louis Selemani Bin Kimbulu (the first person to accept the Faith) and Sébastien Ilunga Ngoy Buanga Tumba, two Congolese bank officials who were living and working in neighbouring Burundi, where they received, from a servant working for a Western expatriate, a book of Bahá'í prayers which they did not hesitate to liken to a grimoire. Finding it interesting, they sent a letter for further clarification regarding the nature of the prayers to the Bahá'í Publishing House which published the book.

    In response to their correspondence, an American Bahá'í living in Usumbura, present-day Bujumbura, went to meet these two men. Some time after they met, and after conducting the independent search for Truth, they decided to become Bahá'ís. This is how they began to spread the “new message” to their other colleagues at the Bank, all Congolese living in eastern DRC.

    Very quickly, these two young bankers succeeded in finding souls receptive to the message of the Bahá'í teachings. They were 19 in all and constituted the nucleus called “Spiritual Sowers”, the founders of the Faith in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [;; A Remarkable Response Film 4:18]

    Bujumbura,Burundi; DRC Louis Selemani Bin Kimbulu; Sébastien Ilunga Ngoy Buanga Tumba
    1954 Ridván The first local spiritual assembly was formed in in Usumbura (later Bujumbura, Burundi) and it composed entirely of Congolese. At that time the area was called Ruanda-Urundi. In 1962 Ruanda-Urundi became the two independent states of Rwanda and Burundi. [A Remarkable Response Film 26:55] Bujumbura; Burundi Local Spiritual Assembly
    1964 Ridván The National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda and Central Africa was formed with its seat in Kampala. [BW14p96]
  • This Assembly had jurisdiction over the following countries: Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo Republic, (Leopoldville), Congo Republic, (Brazzaville), Gabon, Central African Republic, and Chad.
  • Kampala; Uganda; Burundi; Rwanda; Leopoldville; Congo Republic; Brazzaville; Gabon; Central African Republic; Chad National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    1969 Ridván The National Spiritual Assembly of Burundi and Rwanda was formed. They had previously been under the jurisdiction of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Uganda and Central Africa. [BW15:205]
  • For picture see BW15:142.
  • Burundi; Rwanda National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    1972 Ridván The counties of Rwanda and Burundi were known as Ruanda-Urundi up until 1962 when the area was divided into two separate countries. From 1956 until 1964 they were administered by the Regional Spiritual Assembly of Central and East Africa and from 1964 to 1969 came under the Uganda and Central Africa regional assembly. The National Spiritual Assembly of Rwanda and Burundi was formed in 1969 and in 1972 the National Spiritual Assembly of Burundi with its seat in Bujumbura and the National Spiritual Assembly of Rwanda with its seat in Kilgali. [BW15:205]
  • Because of disturbances in the country; the Bahá'i administration in Burundi was dissolved in the same year and the affairs of the Faith placed under an administrative committee. It re-formed in 1978. [BW15:205; BW17:141]
  • Bujumbura; Burundi; Kilgali; Rwanda National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    1972. 11 May - 24 Feb 1973 Hand of the Cause Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum and her companion, Violette Nakhjavání, arrived in Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe), at the start of the fourth leg of the ‘Great African Safari’. This leg of the tour ended in Kenya. [BW15:594–607]

    The itinerary was as follows:

  • May 11 - Jun 8, 1972, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
  • June 4, 1972, Zambia
  • June 9 - 28, 1972, Botswana
  • June 29 - July 6, 1972, Republic of South Africa
  • July 7 - 11, 1972, South West Africa (Namibia)
  • July 12 - 19, 1972, Republic of South Africa
  • July 19 - Aug 4, 1972, Lesotho
  • Aug 4 - 14, 1972, Republic of South Africa
  • Aug 15 - Sept 19, 1972, Swaziland
  • Sept 20 - 21, 1972, Mozambique
  • Sept 22 - 23, 1972, Swaziland
  • Sept 24 - 27, 1972, Republic of South Africa
  • Oct 2 - 10, 1972, Kenya
  • Oct 11 - Nov 2,1972, Malawi
  • Nov 3 - 8, 1972, Kenya
  • Nov 9 - 24, 1972, Seychelles
  • Nov 25 - Dec 12, 1972, Kenya
  • Dec 5 - 18, 1972, Rwanda
  • Dec 13 - 14, 1972, Tanzania (And Mafia Island)
  • Dec 19, 1972 - Jan 13, 1973, Zaire (now Central African Republic)
  • Jan 14 - 22,1973, Rwanda
  • Jan 23 - 24, 1973, Burundi
  • Jan 25 - Feb 2, 1973, Tanzania (And Mafia Island)
  • Feb 2 - 24, 1973, Kenya [BW15p606-607]
  • Harare; Zimbabwe; Zambia; Botswana; South Africa; Namibia; Lesotho; Swaziland; Mozambique; Malawi; Nairobi; Kenya; Seychelles; Rwanda; Tanzania; Mafia Island; Burundi Amatul-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum; Amatul-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, Journeys of; Violette Nakhjavani; Great African Safari
    1973 7 Apr Following the return to stability in Burundi, the Bahá’í Faith was granted formal recognition by the government. [BW16:137] Burundi Recognition (legal)
    1974 (In the year) As a result of an intervention by the Egyptian chargé d’affaires, Bahá’í activities in Burundi were banned. [BW16:137]
  • At the request of the Universal House of Justice and through the able intervention of Dr. ‘Aziz Navidi, several representations were made to the Government.
  • Burundi Persecution, Burundi; Persecution, Bans; Persecution; Aziz Navidi
    1975 (In the year) The ban imposed on the Bahá’í Faith in Burundi in 1974 was lifted but Bahá’í activities continued to be restricted, particularly in provincial areas. [BW16:137] Burundi Persecution, Burundi; Persecution, Bans; Persecution
    1978 Ridván The National Spiritual Assembly of Burundi was re-formed. [BW16:137; BW17:141, 142, 347] Burundi National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    1990 (In the year) Pope John Paul II made mention of the Bahá'ís at a reception held in his honour in Burundi. [AWH88] Burundi Pope John Paul II; Popes
    1996 Ridván National Spiritual Assemblies of Burundi and Rwanda were not able to form due to political instability in the region. The number of National Spiritual Assemblies remained at 174. [Riḍván 153 – To the Bahá’ís of the World] Burundi; Rwanda National Spiritual Assembly, formation; Statistics
    2011 Ridván Burundi elected its first National Spiritual Assembly in 17 years. Civil war and unrest during recent decades made it difficult for the Bahá'í community to administer its affairs. [BWNS816, BWNS822] Burundi National Spiritual Assembly, formation; Re-election; BWNS

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    from the Main Catalogue

    1. Bahá'í Communities by Country: Research Notes, by Graham Hassall (2000). Brief notes on the history of Bahá'í activities and the dates of NSA formation in Africa, China, Australia, and elsewhere. [about]
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