PAYNESVILLE – The Liberian Baha’i community recently elected its national leadership to steer the affairs of the Faith for the next one year. The national leadership is known as the National Spiritual Assembly (NSA).
Nineteen delegates, as well as over one hundred observers assembled at the Baha’i Development Institute (BDI) in Paynesville, along the Roberts International Airport highway and saw the coming into leadership of the nine members Assembly.
Interesting and fascinating was the holding of the elections without any canvassing, nomination or endorsement but through a strictly secret ballot.
Nine members, including Albert Thoudou, Alfred G. Suah, Adriana Clarke, Eddie Wright and Geebli Newray were elected to the NSA. Others are Jack Evans Duogee, Mehngoankeh Baymie, Nicolas Bowen and Reginald Kraty Gaye.
At the 45th Convention was Counsellor Agatha Gasie-Nketsiah who came from Ghana to represent and provide support on behalf of the Continental Board of Counselors of the Baha’i faith in Africa. She congratulated the elected members of the NSA and admonished them to rely on the counsels of the Faith in doing the work they are to do.
“We don’t believe in partisan politics because it is divisive. We obey the government and the laws but we don’t believe in partisan politics. This is while the Baha’i Faith we don’t have priests. We have two arms that govern the affairs of the Faith in the world. We have the elected arm and the appointed arm, Cllr. Nketsiah began as she explained why Baha’is conduct their elections activities void of politics and outside influence,”. Nketsiah said.
She noted that the elected arm which consists of elected institutions, including the Local Spiritual Assemblies, the National Spiritual Assemblies and the Universal House of Justice function each with all three powers of executive, legislative and judiciary placed in their care.
She explained further that at the local level, Baha’is and even people who are not Baha’is are free to consult with the Local Spiritual Assemblies on issues about their communities or about their own wellbeing, pointing out that a healthy and prosperous community is one in which everyone makes progress, instead of a few doing well while the majority suffer.
At the national level, the Baha’i learned elder stated that the welfare of a country is not solely dependent on political institutions of governments but also the religious bodies and the Baha’i Faith stands out as one that is available at all times to help provide solutions through the available spiritual guidance.
“We believe in the teachings of Baha’u’llah and we are learning to apply them to the growth and advancement of the world. We believe in and work for the unity of the entire human race. We promote causes that elevate contributions of girls and women and strongly see the equality between men and women as the only sure way this world can become a better place,” Nketsiah said.
She said as Counselors of the Faith, they provide advice to the elected institutions through the guidance released by the Universal House of Justice, the world governing body of the Faith.
According to her, the entire Baha’i world community is working with one and the same plan known as the 9 Year Plan and it will continue to be in use until 2046, a period of 45 years of intensive teaching campaigns aimed at raising clusters from first or non-milestone to the third milestone or even the frontier of learning.
“A Cluster is a manageable geographic size of an area and our goal is to see how development can take place. I mean both material and social development can take place within each of these clusters. We have a role of encouraging individuals and lending support to them as well as the institutions and other agencies in the work of the Faith,” she explained more.
Nketsiah: “In the Faith, we draw our national and local plans from the divine Plan that is given to us by the Universal House of Justice. This divine plan was given to the Baha’i world by Abdul Baha. Abdul Baha is the son of Baha’u’llah. After the passing of Baha’u’llah, in His Will and Testament, He said that all Baha’is should turn to Abdul Baha. He gave the world a divine Plan to bring about the implementations of the teachings of Baha’u’llah. Now it is the Universal House of Justice that hands over to us the divine plan.”
As components of the 9 Year Plan, the Counsellor said the training of children in order to mold their moral character, catering for junior youth (young ones between the ages of 12 and 15) through the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program and having study circles of Baha’i inspired literature and devotional meetings are vital to the growth and development of any community.
Nketsiah who has oversight on Liberia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and The Gambia Baha’i Communities concluded by emphasizing that Teaching of the Baha’i Faith and Consolidation of its activities as well as Social action that creates space for discourses on climate change, environment and public health are integral to the success of the 9 Year Plan; admonishing Baha’is in Liberia to work hard to achieve the goals put in place.
Eddie Wright is the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly and he was thrilled that the Baha’i Faith in Liberia is making progress.
“The Faith is setting up a foundation that the world is going to accept one day as a model for elections. We can vote people into offices without the need for political parties or campaigning. We are using the model and it is working very well. Baha’u’llah has brought us the new teachings and we are glad that we have the privilege to share with other people,” Wright said.
He said the Baha’i Faith is not new in Liberia as it has been around since the 1950s and has made lots of significant gains over the years.
“We will even be more visible this year and going forward. It is good for the government to know that we too are here. It is not only Christians and Muslims live in this country. We love everyone and we want to be part of discussions that bring about peace, unity and growth,” he said, noting that it is his wish that the government invites Baha’is to functions to get their take on issues of national concern.