Go on a spiritual tour
Have you ever been to Uganda’s Baháʼí Temple? Many say that when they step over the threshold, a quiet fills the air and a sense of peace overcomes them. The temple is a gorgeous creation, a testament of faith. Some would rather explore the majesty of Gaddafi Mosque or Namugongo Shrine, but whatever your spirit wills, you can find it in Uganda.
Namugongo martyrs shrine
About 15 km east of Kampala city lies the Namugongo martyrs’ shrine where more than 20 catholic and Anglican martyrs were burnt alive on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga in June 1886. Consequently, christians from eastern and central Africa and indeed the world over flock to Namugongo to pay their respects and renew their faith by paying pilgrimage to the martyrs on June 3rd, every year. A church was constructed in the shape of a traditional Baganda hut (akasiisiira) in memory of the martyrs. It stands on 22 copper pillars representing the 22 catholic martyrs. In front of the main entrance to the church, below the altar is the spot where Charles Lwanga, the leader of the Catholics was burnt on June 3rd 1886.The church was consecrated by Pope Paul VI on August 2nd, 1969.
The Baha’i temple
There are only nine Baha’i temples on the globe and only one in Africa. The only Baha’i temple on the continent, is modeled on a dome-shaped traditional African hut, and sits on Kikaya hill in Uganda’s Capital, Kampala above every other landscape 3km away in all directions.
At the time of its construction, the Baha’i temple was the tallest building in the whole of East Africa, standing 38 meters (125 feet) tall overlooking all its surroundings.
The Baha’i faith was founded in 1844 by Bahá’u’lláh from Persia in modern day Iran. However, the faith would only be introduced to Uganda a century later after its inception. The first followers of the faith arrived in Uganda in 1951 and just one year later, 100 more local followers had joined the faith. The foundation stone for the magnificent temple would be laid six years later.
The Baha’i temple is such a spectacle to admire, rich with immense culture and spirituality. But what makes the Baha’i temple stand out besides the fact that it stands tall above its surroundings is its artistic architecture. The temple’s dome-like shape symbolizes the divine circle, a reflection of heaven on earth and the spirituality of sacred borders. The 400-sitter, has a radiating porch on the lowest level that guards it against the seasonal winds and rains associated with its altitude, and its outer façade is decorated with green and white mosaic tiles fading into the blue color that grazes its inner walls.
It becomes very clear on first encounter, that the Baha’i are extremely artistic, but most importantly, hospitable. Their faith centers on an all-inclusive idea that human rights are a priority in teaching the true values of humanity, which probably explains the feeling of calm and tranquility that greets you at the Temple’s sacred entrance. Why Uganda was specially chosen as home to this work of art is a question you shall likely ask once you visit.