More than 1,000 Bahá’ís from six countries gathered for the Regional Conference in Nakuru, Kenya, 8-9 November, to consult on the goal of launching intensive programs of growth (IPGs) in 38 clusters, 23 of them in Kenya. Joining the 700 Kenyans were 200 Bahá’ís from Uganda, 100 from Tanzania, and 42 from Ethiopia. Four friends came from Mozambique and three from Southern Sudan. Unfortunately, circumstances did not allow the Eritrean friends to attend.
Frequent rain showers did not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants, nor did the noise of the rain on the auditorium’s rooftop distract them from their purpose. Songs of rejoicing often filled the auditorium when the participants were not engaged in sharply focused deliberations.
Already, there are 33 IPGs under way in the region—including in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. With so many new IPGs to launch, the conference provided a unique opportunity to explore how recent successes could be replicated on a large scale.
“No more time for side shows! We know exactly what to do, we have to help the surrounding clusters achieve their aims.”
Lucy Imison, Kenya
Members from the International Teaching Centre, Ms. Uransaikhan Baatar and Mrs. Rachel Ndegwa, representing the Universal House of Justice, outlined a vision of the historical and the spiritual significance of the present day and humanity’s mounting receptivity to the message of the Faith. They drew the friends’ attention to the urgent need to accelerate the capacity-building process, the role of the individual in the Five Year Plan, and the necessity to act swiftly and sacrificially.
On the first day, the rich experience of the region was evident in the presentations made by the National Spiritual Assemblies and several friends on the central elements of the Plan. They noted that many of the achievements, particularly the enhanced capacity in the region, had resulted from the use of Tiriki West and Matunda Soy clusters as sites for the propagation and dissemination of learning. The strategic deployment of individuals, who could share the experience of these clusters with others and instill confidence, also contributed greatly to the progress made.
A cultural evening brought together inspired and energetic presentations from Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia that were especially well received. These presentations drew on the writings of the Faith and highlighted learning acquired by local Bahá’í communities during the Plan. The Maasai dance group from Arusha cluster in Tanzania was also well received.
“Magnetic and electrifying event. There is an urgency for us to arise as reflected in the message of the House of Justice. It is evident that the old world order is falling apart and we must be ready.”
Margaret Ogembo, Kenya
On the morning of the second day, Continental Counsellor Selam Ahderom emphasized that each one of us should reassess and realign our lives so as to be able to arise to play our part. The planning session that followed was characterized by determination and focus. The friends discussed the current capacity and needs of the 38 targeted clusters and came up with concrete goals, plans and timing for launching intensive programs of growth. Vital support was pledged by friends in neighboring clusters, who offered to serve as home-front pioneers and tutors.
Each country then presented the outcomes of the workshops in a plenary session, demonstrating the zeal and commitment to action that had been gained. In all the presentations, words such as these could be heard: “We will do this immediately after the conference”; “Mr. … will travel right after the conference”; “We will visit the cluster next week and have a reflection meeting with the friends there to consult with them.”
National and regional institutions expressed their readiness to follow up on plans formulated in the conference and to assist the friends in the commitments they made. The final talk, given by Mrs. Ndegwa, was filled with emotion and love, infusing the crowd with a spirit of faith and sacrifice.
(Based on reports of Counsellors and others present in Nakuru)
“The conference has been extremely inspiring and phenomenal. For the past two and a half years I’ve been looking for some sense of direction to assist with the plan but have been unable to focus. But now I return to Uganda re-energized!” – Nahid Woldu, originally Eritrean but living in Uganda
“The processes of disintegration have to be dealt with by the development of human resources capable of resisting them. This conference has given us a clear direction in which we can now act and fulfill the wishes of the House of Justice.” – Joy Mboya, Kenya
“No more time for side shows! We know exactly what to do, we have to help the surrounding clusters achieve their aims.” – Lucy Imison, Kenya
“Magnetic and electrifying event. There is an urgency for us to arise as reflected in the message of the House of Justice. It is evident that the old world order is falling apart and we must be ready.” – Margaret Ogembo, Kenya
“Whenever the House sends a new message, a new spirit is born. I have always known this but have never felt it as intensely as I did in Nakuru. Even though I may not understand the sense of urgency, I know that I should just get up, forget my own shortcomings and move forward and fulfill what the House expects. Being with the friends from all over the region and beyond in unity and fellowship was touching, especially since we can see the rest of the planet disintegrating. I wish I could maintain this atmosphere every day for the rest of my life.” – Awalet Mehari, originally Eritrean but living in KenyaReturn to top
Young people are key participants in the gatherings.
More than half the people at the Nakuru conference live in Kenya, but big groups also came from Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. A few Baha’is were able to travel from Mozambique and Southern Sudan.
Statistics from the Debrezeit cluster in Ethiopia are given during the presentation of action plans.
This workshop was for planning an intensive program of growth in the Bumula cluster in Kenya.
Joy Mboya of Nairobi, Kenya, takes the microphone during one of the activities.
Friends from Ethiopia get into the spirit with their dancing.
The workshops involved specific planning for activities in goal clusters.
Uransaikhan Baatar and Rachel Ndegwa attended the conference as representatives of the Universal House of Justice.
Goodard Ruta, left, of Tanzania listens intently during a plenary session.
Breakout sessions gave everyone a chance to get involved individually in the planning.
The exuberance of the conference was often reflected in music and movement.
Video: The high spirits of the conference led to joyful song and dance.