Africa West Area Youth Conference

“Africa West Area Youth Conference,” New Era, Aug. 2011, 35

Africa West Area Youth Conference: “A Mighty Change”

Submitted by Sisters Pamela J. Page and Linda J. Petersen, missionaries in the Africa West Area

Young men and young women from the Africa West Area celebrated the 180th anniversary of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon last August. The event was held simultaneously in 20 venues across Africa and included over 11,000 youth from 27 stakes and 32 districts from the seven nations of the Africa West Area: Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. It was performed for an audience of more than 30,000. Hundreds of yards of cloth were cut, labeled, and packaged for delivery to outlying stakes and districts. Provided with basic patterns, drawings, and construction ideas, each area created the scenery, costuming, and special effects to stage reenactments of Book of Mormon scenes. Casts ranged in size from 40 to 1,700 participants.

Many found themselves feeling a kinship with the stories they portrayed on stage. Samuel Bagbansoro, 14, of the Abeokuta Nigeria District said, “I acted as one of the guards to the wicked King Noah. The scene with the prophet Abinadi made a great impression on my heart. I know now that whoever is filled with the Spirit of God cannot be subdued by men.”

As practices progressed and the final performances were held, young men and young women found themselves internalizing their respective roles. “Playing the part of Sariah made me seriously ponder on my role when I will be a mother and how I will be able to have the strength,” Chidinma Ijeomah said.

Standing atop the tower erected for the Accra production, Calvin Sowah of the Ghana Accra Adenta Stake, took on the role of King Benjamin. During a television news interview following the production, Calvin shared his perspective on the need for humble leadership in government based upon principles of righteousness. He said, “I realize that most leaders in the world today are proud. I believe that if, as King Benjamin, we will make Jesus Christ the cornerstone of our leadership, we will be good leaders.”

Ezekial Sunny Oni of the Lagos Nigeria Stake sums up the feelings of many who participated in this event. “I know the Book of Mormon is true and for us, our time, and our good, a gift to be cherished from our Heavenly Father,” he says.

Photographs by Tim Taggart