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from the Chronology

date event locations tags see also
1911 (In the year) A group of Bahá'ís developed in South Africa. [A Brief Account of the Bahá'í Faith in Africa Since 1953 by Nance Ororo-Robarts and Selam Ahderrom p2] South Africa Statistics
1920 Jul-Aug Fanny Knobloch, the first Bahá'í teacher in South Africa, arrived in Cape Town. [BW2:40].
  • In her first week she met Miss Busby who within a very short time is the first person to become a Bahá'í in South Africa.
  • Cape Town; South Africa Fanny Knobloch
    1929 Sep Shoghi Effendi sailed from England to Cape Town and proceeded overland to Cairo. [PP180–1, SETPE1p163]
  • He travelled through East Africa passing through Rhodesia where he visited the grave of Cecil Rhodes and further north in Rhodesia to see the Victoria Falls.
  • He rode as a passenger with an English hunter through part of East Africa and travelled on a train for some five hundred miles.
  • He crossed the Nile River through a papyrus swamp on a ferry.
  • He was back in Haifa by October. [SETPE1p163]
  • United Kingdom; Cape Town; South Africa; Cairo; Egypt; Africa Shoghi Effendi, Life of; Shoghi Effendi, Travels of; Shoghi Effendi, Basic timeline; - Basic timeline, Expanded
    1940 28 Jul Shoghi Effendi, Rúhíyyih Khánum and Sutherland Maxwell left England for South Africa aboard the SS Capetown Castle. It was Mr Maxwell's close friendship with the Canadian High Commissioner in London, Vincent Massey, that helped them secure the sea passage. [PP180]
  • They departed Southhampton just three days before the German High Command issued an order to the Luftwaffe to establish air superiority along the British Channel coast in preparation for the invasion of England. This resulted in the bombing and strafing of all civilian shipping out of British Channel ports.
  • Risking U-Boat attacks the ship took them to Durban where they found that all flights to Khartoum had been booked by the military.
  • They left Mr. Maxwell in Durban to await a flight to Khartoum while Shoghi Effendi and Rúhíyyih Khánum tried to make their way to Khartoum overland. The trip across Africa took them to Stanleyville, Congo; Juba in the Sudan; down the Nile to Khartoum and back to Palestine through Cairo. [PP180–1, TG159]
      They arrived in Kisangani then Stanleyville a few weeks later (July 28, 1940), stayed for a week at the Stanley Hotel and made an excursion in the virgin forest. On the way to Juba, the Guardian also stayed in the village of Nia-Nia. [bahai.org]
  • United Kingdom; Africa; South Africa; Congo; Sudan; Egypt Shoghi Effendi, Life of; Shoghi Effendi, Travels of; Amatul-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum; Amatul-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, Journeys of; Sutherland Maxwell; World War II; Shoghi Effendi, Basic timeline; - Basic timeline, Expanded
    1954. 12 Jul The first South African to become a Bahá'í enrolled in the Faith on this day. [That Promising Continent 20] Pretoria; South Africa First Bahais by country or area
    1955 Jan Dorothy Senne became the first Bahá'í in South Africa. [BWNS270] South Africa Dorothy Senne; BWNS
    1955 c. Jan The first Tswana Bahá’í, Stanlake Kukama, enrolled in Mafikeng. Mafikeng; South Africa First believers by background
    1956 Ridván The Regional Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa was formed with its seat in Johannesburg, South Africa. The National Convention was held at the Sears farm. Those elected to serve were: John Allen, Festus Chembeni, Walter Dlamini, William Masehla, Robert Miller, Andrew Mofokeng, John Robarts, William Sears and Max Seepe. In January 1957 Walter Dlamini resigned and Marguerite Sears was elected to replace him. [BW13:284; MBW71-72; BN no608 November 1981 p11]
  • Its area of jurisdiction was the Union of South Africa, Basutoland, Zululand, Swaziland, Bechuanaland, South West Africa, Angola, Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Mozambique, Madagascar, Réunion Island, Mauritius and St Helena Island. See the Guardian's message to this Assembly. [That Promising Continent 28-29]
  • Johannesburg; South Africa National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    1962. 20 Jul The passing of Harlan Foster Ober (b. October 6, 1881 in Beverly, Massachusetts) in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa.
  • He had graduated from Harvard University in 1905 with a B.A. and later obtained a law degree from Northeastern University in Boston.
  • Harlan Ober became a Bahá'í at Green Acre in 1905. Another source said it was in the spring of 1906 in a room in the Commonwealth Hotel in Boston that he overcame his doubts while using a prayer and other literature given to him by Lua Getsinger. [LDNW23; 100-101; SBR120-121]
  • Hooper Harris and Lua Getsinger's brother, Dr. William Moore, were selected to make a teaching trip to India. When Moore died suddenly Harlan Ober was chosen to replace him. As he had no funds for the trip Lua borrowed the money from Mr Hervey Lunt, the father of Alfred Lunt. [LGHC105]
  • In 1906 he made a visit to 'Abdu'l-Bahá while He was still confined to prison.
  • On the 17th of July, 1912 he married Grace Roberts (aunt of future Hand of the Cause John Robarts) in a ceremony conducted by the Reverend Howard Colby Ives at 209 West 78th Street in New York. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited America in 1912 He had suggested that Grace Robarts and Harlan marry, and they both agreed with the match, with Harlan travelling to New York from Boston and proposing in Central Park after being informed of the suggestion by Lua Getsinger. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá performed the marriage ceremony in the room he was staying in in New York on July 17, 1912, and Howard Colby Ives later performed a legal ceremony. [SoW Vol 3 No 12 p14; Bahaipedia; The Jouney West, July 2012; Mother’s Stories: Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Early Believers told by Muriel Ives Barrow Newhall to her son, p. 20]
  • They adopted three children of English, German and Russian background.
  • It was from their home in Cambridge, MA, from the office of the National Teaching Committee, that the first Teaching Bulletin was issued on November 19, 1919. This bulletin evolved to the US Baha'i News.
  • He was closely involved with Race Unity work and made many teaching trips to the southern states with his friend Louis Gregory.
  • He served on the Bahá'í Temple Unity Executive Board as president or secretary from 1918 to 1920. The work of this board was taken over by the National Spiritual Assembly when it was elected in 1922.
  • In 1938 Harlan was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada and he served on it until 1941.
  • Grace passed away in 1938, leaving Harlan widowed.
  • He married his second wife, Dr Elizabeth Kidder Ober in Beverly, MA on the 21st of June, 1941. Shoghi Effendi was pleased with the way the marriage was conducted, without having any church ceremony or minister conduct the service. [BW13p869, 871]
  • After their pilgrimage in 1956 Harlan and Elizabeth Ober travelled to South Africa where they helped form the first all-African Local Spiritual Assembly in Pretoria as had previously been request of them by the Guardian. They returned in December as pioneers. [BW13869]
  • He was appointed to the Auxiliary Board for Protection in Africa in October of 1957 and served on the National Teaching Committee of South and West Africa for two years.
  • He was buried in the Zandfontein Cemetery in Pretoria. [BW13p870; Find a grave; Bahaipedia; BW13p869]
  • Beverly MA; United States; Pretoria; South Africa Harlan Ober; Grace Robarts Ober; In Memoriam; US Bahai News; Race Unity; Elizabeth Kidder Ober; Elizabeth Ober; Auxiliary Board Members
    1966 12 Dec The Hand of the Cause John Robarts departed Africa from Cape Town after a stay of nearly 13 years. They were recalled from their pioneer post by the Universal House of Justice to help Canada win the goals of the Nine Year Plan. The objective was to raise 154 local assemblies by 1973 but the count had fallen from 68 to only 50, eighteen less than the number won during the Ten Year Plan and 104 short of the objective. [LNW158] Cape Town; South Africa; Canada John Robarts; Hands of the Cause
    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
    1979. 21 Mar The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a programme of activities to be undertaken during the second half of the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. On that occasion, the General Assembly decided that a week of solidarity with the peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination, beginning on 21 March, would be organized annually in all States.

      The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid "pass laws" in 1960. [United Nations website.

  • Sharpville Massacre on 21 March 1960. This is a day which is commemorated each year in South Africa.
  • Sharpville; South Africa United Nations; International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; Racism
    1981 Ridván The National Spiritual Assembly of Bophuthatswana was formed with its seat in Mmabatho. [BW18:107, 163; BN no606 November 1981 p10]
  • It was a Bantustan or nominally independent state established within South Africa. The South African government abolished Bantustans in 1994 and the Assembly of Bophuthatswana was disbanded in 1995 with the community falling under the administration of the National Spiritual Assembly of South Africa. [National Spiritual Assemblies: Lists and years of formation by Graham Hassall]
  • Mmabatho; Bophuthatswana; South Africa National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    1983 17 Jul The passing of Counsellor William Mmutle Masetlha (b.February 21, 1921 in Sophiatown, a township of Johannesburg) in Dube (Soweto), South Africa. [BW19p607-608]
  • He became a Bahá'í in 1954 and served on local assemblies, the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of South and West Africa, on the Auxiliary Board and in 1976 was appointed as a Counsellor. [Bahá'í Chronicles]
  • Founded in 1995, the William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation (WMMF) is a Bahá'í organization that supports education and vocational training initiatives in Zambia. Its parent organization, the Masetlha Institute, was founded in 1983 and offers community-based education in areas including literacy and health, as well as spirituality. One of the WMMF’s initiatives, the Banani International Secondary School, is a residential girls’ school specializing in science and agriculture; in 2003, the Banani School was ranked among the top 100 African secondary schools. WMMF is also partnering with FUNDAEC (Foundation for the Application and Teaching of the Sciences) to develop a secondary education/vocational training preparation program for rural youth.
  • Sophiatown; Johannesburg; Dube; Soweto; South Africa In Memoriam; Mmutle Masetlha; Auxiliary Board Members
    1985 5 – 8 Apr An International Youth Conference to support the United Nations International Youth Year was held in Bophuthatswana, attended by 198 people. [BW19:300] Bophuthatswana; South Africa; Africa Conferences, Bahai; Conferences, Youth; Conferences, International; Youth; International Youth Year
    1987. 27 Mar A National Spiritual Assembly with its seat in Johannesburg had been in existence continually since 1956. The first Assembly for this region was the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa which included several other countries and territories. The name of the Assembly was changed on this date to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of South Africa. [BW20p548]
  • The states of Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, South Africa, and Transkei were merged to form South Africa.
  • Johannesburg; South Africa National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    1989 21 – 22 Oct The Southern African Bahá’í Association for the Advancement of Women was formed in Johannesburg. [BINS210:8] Johannesburg; South Africa Women
    1989 25 – 29 Dec The first International Bahá’í Summer School of Bophuthatswana was held at the Pilanesberg National Game Reserve, attended by 263 people from 12 countries. [BINS215:1–2] Bophuthatswana; South Africa Summer schools; First summer and winter schools
    1990 (In the year) The National Spiritual Assembly of South Africa made a submission for the drafting of a new constitution.
  • The judge that received it, the President of the South African Law Commission, commented that this document stated the Bahá’ís were the only group whose ideas had a spiritual and moral basis for the constitution. [AWH87-8]
  • South Africa National Spiritual Assembly; Constitutions (Bahai)
    1991 20 Jan The first World Religion Day to be held in Bophuthatswana took place in Mmabatho. [BINS 244:1] Mmabatho; Bophuthatswana; South Africa World Religion Day
    1993 13 Mar Three Bahá'ís were assassinated at the Bahá'í Centre in Mdantsane, Ciskei, in a racially-motivated attack. [BW93–4:147–50] Mdantsane; Ciskei; South Africa Assassinations; Racism
    1994 Mar 13 The murder of four Bahá'is, three adults and one youth, at the Bahá'í Centre in Mdantsane, Ciskel. Killed were Dr. Shamam Bakhshandegi, Houshmand Anvari and Vincent and Rias Razavi. The perpetrators were granted amnesty for the killings in May 2002. [BW93-4p147-150, 16 May 2000, SCBC, press release] Mdantsane; Ciskei; South Africa Opposition; Murders; Amnesty (general)
    1995. Ridván The Bahá’í communities of Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, South Africa, and Transkei were merged into one community under the jurisdiction of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of South Africa, to reflect the political reunion of that region. [BW24p29; BW24p44] Bophuthatswana; Ciskei; South Africa; Transkei National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    1999. 12 - 14 Jan During the World Faiths Development Dialogue continuation in Johannesburg, Matt Weinberg, director of research for the Office of Public Information of the Bahá'í International Community, presented a statement Religious Values and the Measurement of Poverty and Prosperity that addressed the question of how to measure the application of spiritual principles in development. [One Country] Johannesburg; South Africa World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD); Bahai International Community; Matt Weinberg; BIC statements
    1999. 1 - 8 Dec The Parliament hosted the second modern-day Parliament of the World’s Religions in Cape Town, South Africa in December 1999, attended by 7,000+ global participants.

    The document A Call to Our Guiding Institutions served as the centrepiece for the working sessions of the Assembly. The Call—the result of a three-year drafting process—was addressed to eight of the world’s most powerful and most influential institutions, inviting each to reflect on and redefine its role for a new century. [Capetown 1999]

    Capetown; South Africa Parliament of the Worlds Religions
    2001 31 Aug – 8 Sep The third United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, was held in Durban, South Africa. The conference was also known as Durban I.
  • The BIC was one of nearly two thousand NGOs present at the NGO forum. The conference itself was fraught with challenges that demonstrated the complexity of these issues and the sensitivity they must be addressed for meaningful change to occur. The BIC participated in the Religious, the Spiritual and the International NGO caucuses; it had an exhibition booth and distributed the statement entitled One Same Substance: Consciously Creating a Global Culture of Unity which provided an outline of the efforts Bahais are doing towards this goal. [One Country]
    • See as well BWNS133 for the full text.
  • UN website
  • Durban; South Africa United Nations; Racism; Discrimination; Bahai International Community; UNESCO
    2002 26 Aug – 4 Sep World Summit on Sustainable Development, a United Nations conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Bahá'í International Community issued a statement, entitled Religion and Development at the Crossroads: Convergence or Divergence?. [BWNS169, BWNS170]
  • For the full text and footnotes see: BIC Web Site.
  • Johannesburg; South Africa United Nations; Sustainable Development; Bahai International Community; BIC statements; Statements; Publications; BWNS; BIC statements
    2008 8 – 9 Nov Regional Conferences were held in Nakuru, Kenya and Johannesburg, South Africa. [BWNS668]
  • Nakuru. [Bahá'í Community News]
  • Johannesbury. [Bahá'í Community News]
  • Nakuru; Kenya; Johannesburg; South Africa Conferences, Regional; BWNS
    2017 1 Aug The release of the film The Cost of Discrimination by Arash Azizi and Maziar Bahari which compared the social costs of discrimination in present day Iran to South Africa under the apartheid regime where, like in Iran, the Dutch Reform Church used their Holy Texts to justify the suppressive measures taken against people of "non-European" origin. South Africa; Iran Film; Documentaries; Cost of Discrimination; Arash Azizi; Maziar Bahari; Discrimination; Christianity; Islam; Persecution, Iran; Persecution

    from the Chronology Canada

    date event locations tags see also
    1990. 5 Sep The passing of Emeric Sala (Emereich Szalvetz ) (b.12 November, 1906 in Havas Dombrovitza, Hungary (later Romania)). He was buried in Royal Oak Burial Park Cemetery in Victoria, BC. [Find a grave]

    He was a founding member of the Montreal Youth Group along with Rowland Estal and George Spendlove, the first organized youth class in the Western Hemisphere. From that youth group came a Hand of the Cause of God, a member of the Universal House of Justice, two members of the Continental Board of Counsellors, three members of National Spiritual Assemblies, and the authors of three Bahá’í books.

    He and Siegfried Schopflocher were instrumental in purchasing and developing the first Canadian Bahá'í property at Beaulac, north of Montreal.

    In 1940 he and his wife Rosemary pioneered for one year to Venezuela and served as travelling teachers throughout South America.

    In 1945 he published This Earth One Country. He wrote about such revolutionary concepts as a "planetary economy", "a supranational community" and a "world plan". [TG86-92]

    Both he and Rosemary were elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada when it was formed in 1948.

    In 1953 they tried to pioneer to the Comoro Islands but could not get residential status from the French government so they settled in Eshowe Zululand, now South Africa. When the government would not renew their licence to trade they moved to Port Elizabeth.

    They returned to Canada briefly in 1963 and pioneered to Guadalajara, Mexico and travelled extensively throughout Central America. Rosemary died at her post in February of 1980.

    In 1980 he married his second wife, Donya, and together they travelled through the Americas, China, India and Europe until they both passed. [BW20 p993-995; Bahá'ís of Canada]

    His biography and that of his wife Rosemary, Tending the Garden was written by his niece Ilona Sal Weinstein. This publication is also available in the e-book format.

    Victoria,BC; Montreal, QC; Beaulac, QC; Eshowe; South Africa; Port Elizabeth; South Africa; Guadalajara; Mexico Emeric Sala; In Memoriam

    from the Main Catalogue

    1. 1970-1995: Newspaper articles archive (1970-1995). Collection of newspaper articles from 1970-1995. [about]
    2. 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]
    3. "Come Back, Africa": First commercial film mentioning the Bahá'í Faith, by Greg Watson (2013). Context of a 1959 African documentary/drama film in which the Bahá'í Faith is discussed. [about]
    4. Disinvestment: Is It a Bahá'í Issue?, by Marjan Nirou, in dialogue magazine, 1:1 (1986). Economic sanctions as a response to apartheid, the background of South Africa, Bahá'í approaches to preventing racism, and imprisoned children. Includes replies by Steven Scholl, Jihmye Collins, Paul Caprez, Lawrence Miller, and Drew Remignanti. [about]
    5. Guardian's Wartime Travels, The, by Harry Liedtke (2016). Brief chronology of world events 1938-1940 juxtaposed with Shoghi Effendi's travels in 1940, when he left Haifa for England nine months after the beginning of the war. [about]
    6. In the Days of the Guardian, by Leroy Ioas (1958-10-31). Includes the well-known comments by Shoghi Effendi about his reactions to being appointed Guardian. [about]
    7. Pilgrimage to Haifa, November 1919, A, by Bahiyyih Randall Winckler (1941/1995). Winckler's parents were Bahá'ís; she met 'Abdu'l-Bahá during his visit to America when He visited her mother in 1912, and was bestowed the name Bahiyyih when she went on pilgrimage in 1919 at age twelve. [about]
    8. Three Talks in Africa, by Ali Nakhjavani and Violette Nakhjavani (2001). Three talks given in East London, South Africa circa August-September 2001, on personal reminiscences of Ruhiyyih Khanum and Enoch Olinga, some history of the Faith in Africa, and stages of spiritual growth and teaching. [about]
     
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