WINDHOEK – A Namibian delegation recently attended a Bahái’ international convention in Israel that had a religious reflection on political strife in the world and the constant tribulations and difficulties facing world leaders in a world split by conflict and riven by disease and inequality.
The convention in Haifa, Israel, represented all the races, nationalities, and languages of the world, who were gathered in love and in perfect unity for a single purpose and in a spiritual atmosphere.
“Our Namibian delegates took the opportunity to pay their respect at the resting places of the two Manifestations of God, the Báb (“the Gate”) and Bahá’u’lláh in the beautiful gardens of Haifa, Israel, to pray for the prosperity of our beloved country, and for spiritual guidance before casting their individual ballots,” said the leader of the group Sophie Tekie who also travelled to Haifa, Israel.
The Bahá’í Faith was introduced in Namibia in 1953 by a British pioneer and since then it has grown to be represented in many major towns and communities in the country.
The Bahá’í Faith originated in Iran in 1844 and is the latest of the major religions in the world. Recently, Namibian Bahá’ís, together, with their fellow friends of the Faith celebrated the 200th anniversary of the founder, Bahá’u’lláh, whose name means “Glory of God.”
Bahá’u’lláh is the latest of a long line of Manifestations of God, and the central principles of His teachings are the oneness of God, the oneness of religion, and the oneness of humanity. The Bahá’í Faith is an independent world religion with believers in almost every country of the world.
The Bahá’í Faith does not have priests, clergy, or a single leader at its head; rather, it has an administrative structure that governs the affairs of the world’s believers. To administer the affairs of the Bahá’í Faith, there exist three types of governing bodies in all Bahá’í communities, everywhere in the world: the Local Spiritual Assembly at the local level, the National Spiritual Assembly, at National level, and the Universal House of Justice, the supreme guiding body of the Bahá’í Faith, globally.
Each local spiritual assembly in Namibia is comprised of nine members who are elected each year by adult Bahá’í residents of a given community. From the Local Spiritual Assemblies, delegates are elected who, in turn, elect the nine members who form the National Spiritual Assembly, at a National Convention held every year. Every five years, the National Spiritual Assemblies attend an International Convention in Haifa, Israel, the seat of the Bahá’í Faith, where the delegates elect the nine members of the Universal House of Justice. The beautiful gardens on mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel are referred to as the 8th wonder of the world, and indeed all the delegates felt that spiritual power on this blessed place, the Holy Land, not only for the Bahá’ís but for many world major religions.
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Namibia is the national administrative council for all Bahá’ís in the country. The Assembly guides and coordinates the activities of local Bahá’í administrative bodies. All nine members of the Namibian National Assembly were represented at the recent 12th International Convention, where more than 166 countries and 1300 delegates were present.
The primary purpose of this convention was to elect the membership of the next Universal House of Justice. It is essential to note that this election, as with all Bahá’í elections, is considered sacred, and was conducted without campaigns, advertisements, placards, speeches, or electioneering of any kind, but rather by secret ballot, and in complete silence, with utmost spirituality, and prayerful reverence.
Following the election, delegates reflected on the ways the institutions on which they serve can nurture environments in which individuals and communities are empowered and can grow in capacity to take action for the betterment of citizens, their countries, and ultimately, the world.
The consultations at International Convention are generally concerned with the development of the Baha’i Faith and the contributions of Baha’i communities to the progress of society.
One of the primary areas of discussion is how Baha’u’llah’s teachings—such as the oneness of humankind, the equality of women and men, the harmony of science and religion, and the independent investigation of truth—are finding expression in a vast array of social settings, from the remotest of villages to large urban centres and across diverse cultural realities.