Church History
First Temple in West Africa
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First Temple in West Africa

Sometime after his baptism, Joseph William Billy Johnson dreamed that the spirits of people who had died visited him and asked what he could do for them. “What could I do?” he wondered. He understood that Latter-day Saints could perform baptisms for their deceased ancestors in temples, but he also knew just how far away the nearest temples were. He and other Ghanaian Saints prayed and fasted for many years that a temple might be constructed in their homeland.

In February 1998, Gordon B. Hinckley became the first President of the Church to visit Ghana. He had visited five years earlier as a member of the First Presidency, hoping to find a suitable location for a temple, but he had not been successful. Now, on the morning of the 16th, he and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland visited a proposed temple site on one of Accra’s main thoroughfares. After some discussion, he asked Holland what he thought of the site. “I think this is an answer to prayer,” he replied. President Hinckley responded, “I feel about like Brigham Young must have felt when he entered the valley. This is the right place. Let’s get it and move forward.”

That afternoon Hinckley and Holland met with over 6,000 Church members at Black Star Square, a large, outdoor plaza in Accra. “You’ve gone a long time without a temple,” Hinckley said. He then announced that he had purchased a beautiful piece of ground in Accra that very morning upon which a temple would be erected.

The members in the crowd jumped to their feet and erupted in a loud cheer, many weeping and exchanging hugs. “I shouted for joy amidst the crowd,” remembered Nesmeekia Engman, “because I knew what having a temple in my country meant.” After years of patient waiting, Joseph William Billy Johnson exulted, “Now we can start doing the temple work for those of our ancestors.”

Ground was broken in November 2001, and on January 11, 2004, the Accra Ghana Temple was the first temple dedicated in West Africa.