KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo — After much anticipation, the design for the national Baha’i House of Worship to be built in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was unveiled today through an online announcement by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the country.
“This has been a long-awaited moment for the Baha’is of the DRC,” says Lavoisier Mutombo Tshiongo, Secretary of the Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly. “With firm feet, we are taking a new step toward raising our first House of Worship, here in the heart of the African continent, giving a new impulse to all our efforts to serve our society.”
The design, created by Wolff Architects in Cape Town, South Africa, is inspired by traditional artworks, structures and natural features of the DRC, as well as by the Baha’i sacred teachings, particularly by the spiritual concept that God’s bounty is unceasingly flowing over all people.
The site of the House of Worship, on the outskirts of Kinshasa, overlooks the Congo River from the edge of a fertile valley. This river, whose tributaries gather rain from every part of the country into one great stream, provides a powerful image of the coming together of all people that is reflected in the design of the temple. The patterns that will adorn the outside of the dome of the central edifice will express this idea in a style reminiscent of the artwork of various Congolese peoples.
Commenting on the design, the architects state: “We were inspired by an image of 19th Century Congolese architecture which showed the most beautiful structures that appear to have finely woven bamboo facades with a parabolic roof made of palm leaves. These houses were located amongst giant baobab trees. ... The undulating roof of the temple makes reference to this history.”
The House of Worship will embody the vibrant devotional spirit that has been fostered over the decades by the Baha’is of the DRC. Over 200,000 people across the country, of all ages and faiths, regularly participate in Baha’i devotional gatherings in their neighborhoods and villages. Even with current lockdown measures, the intensity of this devotional life has only increased while maintaining safety measures put in place by the government.
Reflecting on these experiences, Mr. Mutombo says, “People from all religious communities are coming to Baha’i devotional meetings, reflecting together on the needs of our society and growing in camaraderie.
“The House of Worship will be built with nine doors facing every direction and will be open to all people, allowing for the principle of unity in diversity to become a daily reality. At this moment when the world is passing through one of the worst crises in recent times, the emergence of this temple signifies the pivotal role that prayer plays in inspiring hope and moving all to action.”