On/File: A Continuing Record of People, Groups, Movements, and Events Impacting Contemporary Religion

The first-ever national House of Worship in the Bahá’í world was dedicated in late March on the outskirts of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its design is “inspired by traditional artworks, structures and natural features of the DRC, as well as by the Bahá’í sacred teachings.” The Bahá’í Mother Temple for Africa had been opened as early as 1961, and there has been a local house of worship in Kenya since 2021. The beginning of a program for building national and local Houses of Worship around the world was announced in 2012 by the Universal House of Justice (the international governing council of the Bahá’í Faith). A second national House of Worship is nearing completion in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea). Although statistics regarding the number of members around the world have often been vague, with the same figure of 5 million mostly used for more than 20 years, Bahá’í officials reported in 2020 an estimate of around 8 million believers worldwide, based on national data collected. Asia comes first, gathering nearly half of the Bahá’í population in the world, with India leading (with estimates of up to nearly 2 million believers).

Source: Bahá’í World News Service.

But the share in Africa is significant, with more than a quarter of Bahá’í faithful living on that continent. Kenya is said to be the country with the most Bahá’í believers in Africa, and Congo comes second, followed by Zambia and South Africa. According to Bahá’í sources, over 200,000 people across the Democratic Republic of Congo (not all of them Bahá’í) participate regularly in Bahá’í gatherings. The religious movement has been present in the country since the 1950s. A 40-minute documentary movie, A Remarkable Response: The Dawn of the Bahá’í Faith in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been released on the occasion of the dedication of the national House of Worship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkfiUBMzefA. (Source: Bahá’í World News Service, March 25 and 28)