Bahai Temple Uganda : The Bahai Mother Temple of Africa also referred to as the Mashriqu’l – Adhkar which means “drawing place of the praise of God” was constructed between 1958 – 1961 on Kikaaya hill 4 miles from the capital Kampala on Gayaza road. It is a 44 feet diameter, 84 feet diameter in the interior with a circumference of 265 feet temple. 38 meters tall, it was the tallest building in East Africa back in the day. The temple has stood the test of time, surving all the multiple civil wars Uganda went through but remaining static and standing.
There is only a single temple in every continent and the Bahai Temple in Kampala is among the seven others in the entire world including Samoa, Australia, Germany, Chile, Panama, the USA, and India. This makes this temple the only in Africa. There hasn’t been an evident reason for the choice of locating in Uganda. 1951 English and Iranian followers of this faith set their feet in Uganda with a prime goal of looking for more local followers and within a year, they had managed to convert 100 followers in Uganda. They later left in 1953 to spread the Bahai gospel into the other parts of the continent. Six years later the Bahai Intercontinental Conference was held in Kampala on which occasion also, the foundation stone was laid for the only Temple in Africa. Currently, the number of followers is estimated at around 29,601 according to the national population and Housing Census, 2014.
For the last 61 years, the temple has opened doors to all people from all walks of life including visitors and believers. Africa’s only Bahai temple is designed in the traditional homes of Africans. The architecture of all the Bahai temples in the world is skillfully designed to incorporate artistic, spiritual, and traditional values and the one in Kampala is in a hut form. The dome shape top is believed to represent the divine circle and sacred borders. The facade is green covered with white mosaic tiles. The temple has 9 doors representing the 9 ways the Bahai followers believe in. The faith has a minimum of three compulsory prayers daily written in, the Kitab-i-Aqdas which is the holy book.
The holy book of Kitab-i-Aqdas was written by the Bahai founder Baha’u’llah in 1873 which contains the laws by which the Bahai must abide. The faith was introduced in 1844 by Baha’u’llah which means God of glory from Iran. The Bahai followers believe hell and heaven aren’t just places but states. The presence of the spiritual qualities is heaven while hell is the state of lack of these qualities and or imperfection. The prayer session allows the followers to meditate and also grasp the nature of God. Unlike the other religions in the world, the Bahai don’t have a particular day for prayers but instead, the community agrees on the days that they find convenient for them. The only time the temple is full is during the commemorating of the birth of their founder which is dubbed the twin Holy birthdays the equivalent of Christmas to Christians.
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkar has become a landmark and a tourism spot in Uganda. The calm and quiet environment provides tranquility allowing you to meditate and take a break from what is happening around you. The fruit trees and beautiful scenery on the path to the dome are epic. Taking pictures is only allowed outside the temple. From the outside one can catch a glance of different bird species roaming around the trees and the hill. The temple is also strategically located for a bird’s view of Kampala.