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from the Chronology

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1933. (Near the end of the year) Mr Sabri Effendi Elias had come to Ethiopia from Alexandria in Egypt at the behest of the National Spiritual Assembly who had been asked by Shoghi Effendi to send a pioneer to that country. He printed one thousand pamphlets in Amharic, and translated Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era. The same work was later printed in Abyssinian.
  • In 1935 when Ethiopia was invaded by the Italians he was forced to return to Egypt, he immediately set off for the Holy Land so see Shoghi Effendi taking with him 18 copies of these translated works. Upon arrival Shoghi Effendi greeted him with, "You have returned victorious and triumphant - because you were the cause of linking the north of Africa to the south".
  • Mr Elias brought with him an an animal skin as a personal gift to Shoghi Effendi who accepted it as a gift from Ethiopia to the Bahá'í World Centre and had Sabri himself place it in the Archives which was at the back of the Shrine of the Báb at the time. This gift was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 18:7. [KoB58] Note: The reference said it was a "gorzia skin but no reference to such an animal could be found. Perhaps an Abyssinian black-and-white colobus.
  • In 1944 he pioneered to Ethiopia again, this time with his wife Fahima and their children Husayn and Safá. [Bahá'í Communities by Country: Research Notes by Graham Hassall; KoB58-61]
  • For more details on his life of service see The Bahá'í World: In Memoriam 1992-1997 p255-257.
  • Ethiopia Knight of Bahaullah
    1934. 8 Nov There were ten Bahá'ís in Addis Ababa when the first LSA was elected. Its members were Atto Sium Gabril-ch, Atto Haila Gabril-vc, Habib Boutros, Sabri Elias-sec, Edouard Goubran, El-Saad Said, E-saad Mansour, Abdu'llahi ahmed, and Aurahil Egsabaihir.
  • A cable announcing formation of the Assembly was sent to Shoghi Effendi, who replied "rejoiced, praying, love, gratitude".
  • In 1934 Sabri Elias was able to have Baha'u'lláh and the New Era translated into Amharic and then published. This was an important step in disseminating the teachings of the Bahá'í Faith across the country. The book was distributed to local libraries and to Bahá'ís around the world. In 1936, a copy of the book was given to the then - Ethiopian King, His Majesty Haile Selassie when he was visiting Jerusalem by a Canadian Bahá'í Mrs. Lorol Schipeflocher. []
  • A circular letter of 21 August 1935 informed LSAs that spiritual meetings had been suspended due to the "present condition of Ethiopia". Elias was forced to leave Ethiopia by socio-political events in 1935, but he and Mrs Elias returned to Addis Ababa in January 1944. [BW10p57]
  • This Assembly became the first incorporated Local Spiritual Assembly in Africa. [BW13p287]
  • Addis Ababa; Ethiopia Local Spiritual Assembly, incorporation; LSA, formation
    1934 25 Nov The first Spiritual Assembly of Addis Ababa was formed. [BW6:70]
  • The community was established by Sabri Elias, and Fahima Elias, pioneers from Egypt who thus earned the title Knights of Bahá'u'lláh. Later Elias was asked to return home with other foreigners. [BW6:71]
  • Ethiopia was the only independent Kingdom in Africa at this date. [BW6:70]
  • Wikipedia says that the Assembly was formed in "late 1934".
  • Addis Ababa; Ethiopia Local Spiritual Assembly; Sabri Elias; Fahima Elias; Knights of Bahaullah
    1956 Ridván The Regional Spiritual Assembly of North East Africa was formed by expanding the jurisdiction of the National Spiritual Assembly of Egypt and Sudan. [BW13:284]
  • Its area of jurisdiction now included Egypt, Sudan, Abyssinia, Libya, Eritrea, British, French and Italian Somaliland and Socotra Island.
  • From this date forward all African territories originally allocated to the United States, the Persian, the Egyptian, the Indian, and the British National Spiritual Assemblies became, in the course of the Ten-Year Plan, to benefit from the advantages of sustained assistance by these Assemblies Spiritual Assemblies. [MBW71-72]
  • Since 1956 National Spiritual Assembly of North East Africa had been led by the former National Spiritual Assembly of Egypt and the Sudan. In 1960 difficulties in Egypt made it impossible to administer territories outside of Egypt a regional administrative committee was formed and this, in turn, was replaced with a new National Spiritual Assembly with its headquarters in Addis Abba. [BW13p287]
  • Egypt; Libya; Sudan; Eritrea; French Somaliland (Djibouti); Djibouti; Italian Somaliland; Ethiopia; Socotra Island; British Somaliland; Abyssinia; Eritrea National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    1961 Ridán The National Spiritual Assembly of North East Africa had been led by the former National Spiritual Assembly of Egypt and Sudan since 1956. In 1960 difficulties in Egypt made it impossible to administer territories outside of the country so a regional administrative committee was formed and this, in turn, was replaced with the new National Spiritual Assembly of Ethiopia with its headquarters in Addis Abba. [BW13p287] Addis Ababa; Ethiopia National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    1963. 20 Apr The number of believers in East and Central Africa numbered well over 40.000 with half of these in the Congo. Similar growth could be seen in countries like British Cameroons, Ethiopia, and Northern Rhodesia. Bahá'ís now resided in well over 30 countries and territories, and consisted largely of tribal peoples that had entered the Faith through the combined efforts of international and native pioneers. The end of the Ten Year Crusade left Africa spiritually and politically transformed. Devoted individuals, operating in daunting conditions, had succeeded in establishing the Faith on the continent while preparing for the next phase in its advancement—continued large-scale expansion would be accompanied by the formation and strengthening of the foundational institutions of the Faith. [A Brief Account of the Progress of the Bahá'í Faith in Africa Since 1953 by Nancy Oloro-Robarts and Selam Ahderom p6-7] Africa; Congo; British Cameroon; Ethiopia; Northern Rhodesia Statistics; Shoghi Effendi, Works of
    1968 (In the year) Over a thousand new believers enrolled in Ethiopia. [BW15:186] Ethiopia Mass conversion
    1968. Ridván Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia formed their own regional assembly. Those elected to serve were: Gila Michael Bahta, Dr. Leo Neiderreitter, Gamal Rushdy, Asfaw Tessema, Dr. Heshmat Farhoumand, Dr. Hushang Ahdieh, Ursula Samandari, Assefaw Habte Michael and Rabbi Teele Mariam. [Wikipedia] Sudan; Somalia; Ethiopia National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    1969. 5 Aug - 1970 11 Mar The itinerary for the first leg of the Great African Safari was as follows:
  • Aug 4 - 14, 1969, Uganda
  • Aug 15 - Sept 1,1969, Kenya
  • Sept 2 - 26, 1969, Tanzania (and Mafia Island)
  • Sept 28 - Oct 14, 1969, Kenya
  • Oct 15 - Nov 17, 1969, Ethiopia. See BW15p186-187 where it is reported that over a thousand new Bahá'ís joined the ranks.
  • Nov 17 - Dec 2, 1969, Kenya
  • Dec 3, 1969 - Jan 2,1970, Uganda
  • Jan 3 - 12, 1970, Zaire (now Central African Republic)
  • Jan 13 - 24, 1970, Zaire (now Central African Republic)
  • Jan 25 - Feb 7, 1970, Chad
  • Feb 8 - 10, 1970, Nigeria
  • Feb 11 - 18, 1970, Niger
  • Feb 19 - 26, 1970, Dahomey (now Benin)
  • Feb 27 - Mar 1, 1970, Togo
  • Mar 2 - 11, 1970, Ghana [BW15p606]
  • Uganda; Kenya; Tanzania; Mafia Island; Ethiopia; Central African Republic; Chad; Nigeria; Niger; Benin; Togo; Ghana Amatul-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum; Amatul-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, Journeys of; Violette Nakhjavani; Great African Safari
    1975 Ridván The Universal House of Justice changed the name of the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Africa to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ethiopia. The only difference in the area of jurisdiction was that it no longer included Somalia. [BW16:144] Addis Ababa; Ethiopia National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    2014 (In the year) An office of the Bahá'i International Community was opened in Addis Ababa to work in collaboration with governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental agencies operating on the African stage. The office maintained strong ties with the African Union, which traced its roots to Addis Ababa in 1963. At the 50th anniversary of that founding, African leaders commissioned Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. This document painted a vivid picture of where Africans would like to see their continent in 50 years' time.
  • The Office worked in five thematic areas: peace and security, the environment and climate change, inequalities between the materially rich and poor, the equality of men and women, and education for all. [BIC website; BIC News]
  • Addis Ababa; Ethiopia Bahai International Community
    2020. 30 Jul It was announced that Mr. Hamed bin Haydara, Mr. Waleed Ayyash, Mr. Akram Ayyash, Mr. Kayvan Ghaderi, Mr. Badiullah Sanai, and Mr. Wael al-Arieghie, prominent Bahá'ís that had been imprisoned by the Houthi authorities in Sana'a, were released from prison in Sana'a. Their years-long incarceration on charges of espionage and heresy had drawn worldwide condemnation.
  • Following their release, the Bahá'í International Community called for the lifting of all charges against these six individuals and the other Bahá'ís that had been charged, the return of their assets and properties, and the safeguarding of the rights of all Bahá'ís in Yemen to live according to their beliefs without risk of persecution. [BIC News 30 July 2020]
  • The release of the six came four months after the Shiite Houthis announced they had commuted the death sentence of Hamed bin Haydara and ordered his release, as well as that of the other five detainees. The six men were flown out of Yemen to Ethiopia late on Thursday, said bin Haydara's wife, Alham. It was reported that they were living in "safe" locations in Europe, receiving medication for wounds and diseases that they contracted during their detention inside Houthi prisons. [San Francisco Chronicle 30 July 2020; Arab News 20/11/2020]
  • The six had been detained at various times:
        Mr. Haydara, an engineer, was arrested because of his beliefs at his workplace in December 2013. Following a long court case that lacked due process, he was sentenced to death in 2018. His appeal was rejected in 2020.
        Mr. Ghaderi, a project officer, was arrested in 2016 when a gathering was raided.
        In April 2017, Mr. Waleed Ayyash, a Yemeni tribal leader, was arrested on his way to Hudaydah and was held in an undisclosed location.
        The following month, Mr. Al-Arieghie, a civil rights activist, was abducted by the authorities in Sana'a.
        Mr. Sana'i, a prominent civil engineer in Yemen in his late 60s, was arrested in front of his workplace.
        In October 2017, Mr. Akram Ayyash, a manager of a nonprofit organization, was arrested during a raid by security forces on a Bahá'í celebration.
  • In September 2018, these five, along with nineteen others, were indicted at a court hearing in Sana'a under baseless charges. [BWNS1443]
  • Diane Ala'i, representative of the Bahá'í International Community, expressed gratitude to the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for their support. [The National]
  • Upon their release they were immediately exiled from the country. [AL Monitor 10 August 2020]
  • Following another court hearing on 22 August 2020 the charges against the six men were not dropped and the prosecution declared the recently released men as "fugitives" despite the fact that their departure from Yemen had been a condition of their release. The prosecution asked the bailors to ensure the compulsory attendance of five of them at the next hearing scheduled for the 12th of September. [BIC News]
  • Sanaa; Yemen; Ethiopia Persecution, Yemen; Hamed bin Haydara; Waleed Ayyash; Akram Ayyash; Kayvan Ghaderi; Badiullah Sanai; Wael al-Arieghie; Bahai International Community
    2023. 23 Jan The Addis Ababa Office of the Bahá'í International Community (BIC) released a short video titled Women in Peace, exploring the important role that women can play in the peace-building process. Dr Solomon Belay of the BIC said that there is a relationship between the advancement of women and the creation of prosperous and peaceful societies and that full participation of women in all spheres of society is required, especially in leadership roles. [BWNS1640] Addis Ababa; Ethiopia Baha'i International Community; film; Solomon Belay

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    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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