Local Temple design unveiled in Kenya
MATUNDA SOY, Kenya — Marking a historic moment, the design for the local Baha’i House of Worship in Matunda Soy, Kenya, was unveiled at a gathering today that brought together over 1,000 people.
In a spirit of joy and excitement, the guests gathered to celebrate the occasion at the site where the future House of Worship will be built. The event included remarks offered by representatives of the Baha’i community and local officials as well as singing, drumming, and traditional dancing. Trees donated by neighbors in surrounding communities were then planted on the grounds.
“This unveiling ceremony brings so much joy to our hearts,” said a representative of the Baha’i community. “This Temple will be a focal point of worship, a nerve center of community life, a place where souls will gather at daybreak for humble invocation and communion before we flow out of its doors to engage in our daily pursuits.”
Senior Village Elder Violet Ombeva also addressed the audience, expressing her happiness that such a beautiful structure will be built in the area.
The design of the House of Worship is simple yet elegant in form, inspired by huts that are traditional to the region. The Temple’s architect, Neda Samimi, will be the first woman whose design for a Baha’i House of Worship was selected.
The concept design features a two-tiered structure that will accommodate about 250 visitors. The exposed roof beams highlight the nine sides of the edifice and are drawn together at an apex skylight beneath which will be placed the Greatest Name. The design incorporates an intricate and expressive pattern that uses the diamond shape, a familiar motif in Kenyan culture. The Temple’s construction will be undertaken with materials from the region—its roof will use local slate, and the walls will be made from stone sourced from quarries nearby.
The process leading to this milestone for the community began with grassroots efforts to cultivate a devotional spirit and an educational process that builds capacity for service to humanity. Along the way, the design of the House of Worship has developed in tandem with the community’s efforts in other fields and has been refined over time.
“The Temple’s purpose is to serve Matunda Soy and its environs,” said Mrs. Samimi. “Its intention is to serve humanity, irrespective of race, religion, or tribe.”
Kenya is one of five countries that was designated by the Universal House of Justice in 2012 to build a local Baha’i House of Worship. Baha’i Temples are open to all as a space for worship and reflection.
(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that Neda Samimi was the first woman to design a Baha’i House of Worship. The text was revised on 16 April 2018 to reflect a more accurate statement, which is that she is the first female architect whose design has been selected.)