I hail with a joyous heart the convocation in the heart of the African continent of the first of the four Intercontinental Teaching Conferences constituting the highlights of the world-wide celebrations of the Holy Year which commemorates the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Mission of the Founder of our Faith. I welcome with open arms the unexpectedly large number of the representatives of the pure-hearted and the spiritually receptive Negro race, so dearly loved by `Abdu'l-Bahá, for whose conversion to His Father's Faith He so deeply yearned and whose interests He so ardently championed in the course of His memorable visit to the North American continent. I am reminded, on this historic occasion, of the significant words uttered by Bahá'u'lláh Himself, Who as attested by the Center of the Covenant, in His Writings, "compared the colored people to the black pupil of the eye," through which "the light of the spirit shineth forth." I feel particularly gratified by the substantial participation in this epoch-making conference of the members of a race dwelling in a continent which for the most part has retained its primitive simplicity and remained uncontaminated by the evils of a gross, a rampant and cancerous materialism undermining the fabric of human society alike in the East and in the West, eating into the vitals of the conflicting peoples and races inhabiting the American, the European and the Asiatic continents, and alas threatening to engulf in one common catastrophic convulsion the generality of mankind. I acclaim the preponderance of the members of this same race at so significant a conference, a phenomenon unprecedented in the annals of Bahá'í conferences held during over a century, and auguring well for a corresponding multiplication in the number of the representatives of the yellow, the red and brown races of mankind dwelling respectively in the Far East, in the Far West and in the islands of the South Pacific Ocean, a multiplication designed ultimately to bring to a proper equipoise the divers ethnic elements comprised within the highly diversified world-embracing Bahá'í fellowship.
TRIBUTE TO PIONEERS IN AFRICAN FIELD
I feel moved, on this auspicious occasion, to pay a warm tribute to the elected representatives, as well as the members, of the British, the Persian, the American, the Egyptian and the Indian Bahá'í Communities which have participated, in pursuance of their respective plans, in the opening stage of a colossal teaching campaign, constituting a vital phase of the impending decade-long World Crusade, and aiming at the spiritual conquest of the entire African continent. I desire in particular to express to all those gathered at this conference my feelings of abiding appreciation of the magnificent role played and of the remarkable prizes won, by the small band of Persian, British and American pioneers, in the course of the initial stage of this divinely propelled and mysteriously unfolding collective enterprise, which has overshadowed both the Latin American and European teaching campaigns launched in recent years, which is destined to exert an incalculable influence on the fortunes of the Faith throughout the world, and which may well have far-reaching repercussions among the two chief races dwelling in the North American continent.
FIRST AFRICAN PILLAR OF UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
To the American Bahá'í Community, the chief executor of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan; to the British Bahá'í Community, destined to play in future decades a predominating role in opening to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh not only the British territories throughout the African continent, but the divers dependencies of the British Crown scattered on the surface of the globe; to the Persian Bahá'í Community, at once the most venerable and most consistently persecuted among its sister communities in both the East and the West; to the Egyptian Bahá'í Community that may well boast of having erected in that continent the first pillar of the Universal House of Justice; to the Indian Bahá'í Community, fated to contribute, to a marked degree, to the spiritual quickening of the Indians constituting a noble element of the population of Africa--to these communities I feel I must acknowledge my deep sense of thankfulness for the strenuous efforts exerted by their pioneers to raise aloft the standard of the Faith in the territories allocated to them in Liberia, Uganda, Tanganyika, the Gold Coast, Kenya, Somaliland, Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, Libya, Algeria, Zanzibar and Madagascar. To others who, though not following the fixed pattern of the plan initiated for the present African campaign, have arisen to introduce the Faith in the territories of Sierra Leone, Angola, Mozambique and Southern Rhodesia I feel, moreover, a debt of gratitude is due for their share in extending the range of Bahá'í pioneer activity in that continent.
AFRICAN PROJECTS TO BE LAUNCHED
The hour is indeed propitious, as the climax of the world-wide rejoicings signalizing the Holy Year approaches, for the national spiritual assemblies of these same communities to gird up their loins, in collaboration with the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iraq, in a supreme effort to launch, on the morrow of this fateful conference, that phase of the Ten-Year Crusade which, God willing, will culminate in the introduction of our glorious Faith in all the remaining territories of that vast continent as well as the chief neighboring islands lying in the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans. The decade on whose threshold they now stand must, circumstances permitting, witness:
First, the erection of three additional pillars within the confines of that continent and its neighboring islands, designed to support, together with no less than forty-five other national spiritual assemblies to be established in other parts of the world, the final unit in the erection of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, namely: The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Central and East Africa, to be formed under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles, with its seat in Kampala; the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South and West Africa, to be formed under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States of America, with its seat in Johannesburg; the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of North West Africa, to be formed under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Egypt and Sudan, with its seat in Tunis.
Second, the initial purchase of land for the future construction of three Mashriqu'l-Adhkars, one in Cairo, one in Kampala and one in Johannesburg, situated respectively in the north, the heart and the south of the African continent.
Third, the opening of the following thirty-three virgin territories and islands: Cape Verde Islands, Canary Islands, French Somaliland, French Togoland, Mauritius, Northern Territories Protectorate, Portuguese Guinea, Reunion Island, Spanish Guinea, St. Helena, and St. Thomas Island, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States of America; Ashanti Protectorate, Basutoland, Bechuanaland, Italian Somaliland, Southern Rhodesia and Swaziland, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Persia; French Equatorial Africa, French West Africa, Morocco (International Zone), Rio de Oro, Spanish Morocco and Spanish Sahara, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Egypt and Sudan; Comoro Islands, French Cameroons, Gambia, Ruanda-Urundi and Socotra Island, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India, Pakistan and Burma; the British Cameroons, British Togoland, Madeira and South West Africa, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles; and Seychelles Islands, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iraq.
Fourth, the translation and publication of Bahá'í literature in the following thirty-one languages to be undertaken by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles: Accra, Afrikaans, Aladian, Ashanti, Banu, Bemba, Bua, Chuana, Gio, Gu, Jieng, Jolof, Kuanyama, Krongo, Kroo, Luimbi, Malagasy, Nubian, Pedi, Popo, Ronga, Sena, Shilha, Shona, Sobo, Suto, Wongo, Xosa, Yalunka, Yao and Zulu.
Fifth, the consolidation of the twenty-four following territories already opened to the Faith in the African continent: Angola, Belgian Congo, Gold Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanganyika, Uganda and Zululand, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles; Abyssinia, Algeria, Eritrea, Libya, French Morocco, Somaliland, Sudan and Tunisia, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Egypt and Sudan; Madagascar, Mozambique and Zanzibar, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India, Pakistan and Burma; Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Persia; Liberia and South Africa, allocated to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States of America.
Sixth, the establishment, circumstances permitting, of a national Bahá'í Court in the capital city of Egypt, the recognized center of both the Islamic and Arab worlds, officially empowered to apply, in matters of personal status, the laws and ordinances revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Mother-Book of the Bahá'í Revelation.
Seventh, the incorporation of the three above-mentioned regional national spiritual assemblies.
Eighth, the establishment by those same national spiritual assemblies of national Bahá'í endowments.
Ninth, the establishment of a national Haziratu'l-Quds in Johannesburg and one in Tunis and the conversion into a similar institution of the local Haziratu'l-Quds of Kampala.
Tenth, the formation of a national Bahá'í Publishing Trust in Cairo.
Eleventh, the formation of an Israel branch of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Egypt and Sudan, authorized to hold, on behalf of its parent institution, property dedicated to the holy shrines at the World Center of the Faith in the state of Israel.
Twelfth, the appointment, during Ridván 1954, by the Hand of the Cause in Africa, of an Auxiliary Board of nine members who will, in conjunction with the six national spiritual assemblies participating in the African campaign, assist, through periodic and systematic visits to Bahá'í centers, in the efficient and prompt execution of the plans formulated for the prosecution of the teaching campaign in the African continent.
A SPIRITUALLY WELDED UNIT
May the six aforementioned national spiritual assemblies, aided by the Hand of the Cause appointed in that continent, and the Auxiliary Board to be chosen by him, and supported by the national committees and subcommittees to be formed in due course, and reinforced by the constant and energetic efforts of an ever-swelling number of pioneers, whether settlers or itinerant teachers, and assisted by the wholehearted collaboration of the indigenous believers in all localities, be spiritually welded into a unit at once dynamic and coherent, and be suffused with the creative, the directing and propelling forces proceeding from the Source of the Revelation Himself, and be made, as the projected campaign unfolds, the vehicle of His grace from on high, and prove themselves worthy and effective instruments for the execution and ultimate consummation of one of the most thrilling and far-reaching enterprises undertaken in the Formative Age of the Faith and constituting one of the noblest phases of the most glorious Crusade ever launched in the course of Bahá'í history for the systematic propagation of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh over the surface of the entire planet.