Bahá'í Faith in Zambia

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The Bahá'í Faith in Zambia began in 1952 with the arrival of a British pioneer named Eric Manton. The first local convert was Christopher Mwitumwa in 1954. The Bahá'í Faith has expanded considerably in Zambia since then, with estimates placing its following at around 1.7% of the population. The Bahá'í community of Zambia oversees several social initiatives, for instance in education with an emphasis on girls' education.


The number of Bahá'ís in Zambia was estimated at 162,443 in 2000, or 1.70% of the total population, according to[1] The site ranks this as the sixteenth-highest national proportion of Bahá'ís in the world.[1] It also ranks Zambia's as the tenth-largest national Bahá'í community in the world in absolute terms, and the fourth-largest in Africa.[1] The Association of Religion Data Archives gives a Bahá'í population of 224,215 in 2005, or 1.7% of Zambia's population.[2] Based on its estimates (which differ to some extent from's), this represents the fifth-highest proportion of Bahá'ís of any country.[2] Both these sources rely on World Christian Encyclopedia, with data from the respective years.[1][2]

According to the Wolfram Alpha knowledge base, 1.8% of people in Zambia are Bahá'í, making the Bahá'í Faith the third-largest religion after Christianity (83%) and indigenous religions (13% in total).[3]


In 1952 Eric Manton became the first Bahá'í pioneer to Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia, part of the British-administered Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland) as well as the first to southern Africa when he arrived from Britain in along with his twelve-year-old son.[4] He was joined by Ethna Archibald of New Zealand in 1955.[4] The first native Zambian convert was Christopher Mwitumwa, an ethnic Lozi, in 1954.[4] The first Local Spiritual Assembly was formed in Fisenge in 1956, followed by Assemblies in Kitwe and Luanshya.[4] The Bahá'í Faith in Zambia was at first confined to the Copperbelt Province, but in 1962 it spread to the North-Western Province when seven people declared themselves Bahá'ís at a devotional meeting in Mwinilunga.[4]

The first National Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1967.[4] The following year it was officially incorporated and the premises for a national Bahá'í centre were obtained.[4] Beginning in 1975, annual national conferences have been held in Zambia on teaching the Bahá'í Faith, and in 1983 the Continental Board of Counsellors for Africa met in Zambia for the first time.[4] In 1998, the first Regional Bahá'í Council in Zambia was formed to serve North-Western Province.[4]

Social Initiatives

The William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation (WMMF), an organization founded in 1995 and run by the Zambian Bahá'í community, specializes in providing vocational training and education.[5] It is responsible for the affairs of both the William Mmutle Masetlha Institute and the Banani International Secondary School.[6] The Masetlha Institute was founded in 1983, and is particularly active in areas such as literacy and primary health care.[5][6] The Banani International Secondary School, which was founded in 1993, is a residential school for girls focused on agriculture and science, and was listed as one of Africa's top one hundred secondary schools in 2003.[5] The Zambian Bahá'í community is working with FUNDAEC, an organization operated by the Colombian Bahá'í community, to create a vocational and educational program for youth in rural areas.[5]

Further reading

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "The Largest Baha'i Communities". Retrieved 2007-10-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". Association for Religion Data Archives. Retrieved 5 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Zambia". Wolfram Alpha. Retrieved 8 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Beard H Mwanza (2011). Towards a history of the Bahai Faith in Zambia (PDF) (Thesis). Zambia: Department of Religious Studies, University of Zambia. Archived from the original (PDF) on Feb 6, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Georgetown University. Retrieved 5 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Baha'i Charitable Agencies". Bahá'í Charity and Service. Retrieved 31 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links