Kinshasa Youth Conference

Democratic Republic of the Congo | 9-11 August 2013

It is an unconditioned joy that gives rise to the songs and music so characteristic of this region; born from deep feelings of hope and certitude in Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of a world founded on justice and unity and arising from humanity’s growing consciousness of our inherent oneness. Despite the difficulties history and circumstance have handed the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the nearly 1000 youth that gathered in the capital city to examine the contribution that every young person responding to the call of Bahá’u’lláh can make, have managed to transcend those forces, and work towards a vision in which the nobility of every soul is recognized, and their right to participate in the betterment of the world preserved.

The youth from Bas Congo, Bandundu, Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, and São Tomé and Príncipe were welcomed by the Continental Counsellors, present as representatives of the Universal House of Justice, and a member of the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their words encouraged the conference participants to meaningfully contribute to the well-being of their communities. One friend commented, “They want us young people to know that we have a great responsibility in changing humanity.”

“No act is nobler than to serve the common good. Serving younger youth is a responsibility that God gives the youth of this generation.”

A participant at the conference

As the participants thoughtfully reflected on the reality of their communities, they made plans that included the participation of all members; adults, children, youth and younger youth. For one workshop group their goals included initiating a number of study circles, in which people of different ages and backgrounds come together and explore the implications of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings for the life of the individual and the community. They planned devotional gatherings, understanding the importance of prayer for a community’s well-being. And, consistent with the themes of the weekend, the participants thought of ways they could engage more of the younger generation in their neighbourhoods in order to fulfill their responsibility of creating an environment that nurtures their spiritual and intellectual empowerment. As one participant shared, “No act is nobler than to serve the common good. Serving younger youth is a responsibility that God gives the youth of this generation.”

Another theme the youth explored over the weekend was the role and purpose of marriage in the context of building a civilization enlightened by the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. The participants recognized that certain modes of thought were outdated, and that communities need to consult and collaborate in learning to apply Bahá’u’lláh’s Teachings in order to meet the exigencies of today. The youth reflected on the ways they could prepare for having a family of their own. One young person commented, “Marriage should be taken in the sense of serving. We get married to a person who helps you to serve, to contribute to the progress of civilization.” Another shared his reflection: “The law of marriage is service-related, in the sense that a couple contributes to the progress of civilization through service. Even if they do not have children, their life of service can be a sacrifice for the betterment of humanity.”

The conference ended with the same uplifting spirit with which it began, as friends from the various groups and regions represented, sang songs inspired by the message of the Universal House of Justice and the vision of service to humanity. A profound sense of joy permeated the gathering, as the youth, full of gratitude and hope for the betterment of their communities, shared songs together well into the evening.

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  • Nearly 1,000 youth attended the conference from Bas Congo, Bandundu, Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, and São Tomé and Príncipe

  • The participants shared their thoughts about how they can contribute to community-building

  • One young person shares his insights during a workshop session

  • A woman participates in a workshop while taking care of her child

  • During a power outage youth sang together for a full hour as they waited for the lights to be


  • Meals times were also a time of fellowship for the participants

  • Friends from a variety of communities took turns sharing songs

  • The youth had time between sessions for joyous fellowship

  • Participants worked together to make systematic plans for their return home

  • A young man drums between sessions

  • Singing and other arts infused both plenary and group sessions

  • Adults served tirelessly during the conference preparing and serving meals to participants

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