Year Crusade. Mr. David Tanyi, Esther‟s husband, established the Faith
in Togo.She told me that before this occurred, Mr. Olinga stayed with her family.
She said she didn‟t understand what he was “preaching.” She no
ticed,however, there was something different about him that made her like
the Bahá‟í Faith. In addition to his other noble qualities, what impressedher most was this: “Every dish of food I put before Mr. Olinga he atewith relish. This was very strange,”
she related. For in her culture, onenever ate the food of someone from a different tribe. People could putharmful things in it. She said she was testing Mr. Olinga with hercooking. He ate everything she served. To Mrs. Tanyi, this proved Mr.Olinga truly believed what he was teaching of the oneness of peoples;that God had sent a new Prophet whose teachings meltedestrangements and differences between peoples. She became the first
woman believer in Cameroon. I don‟t know if our Cameroonian
introducer can cook, but she comes from a great nation of storytellers.
The Bahá’í Storytelling Tradition
In the Bahá‟í world, a great storytelling tradition exists. Wheneverbelievers attained Bahá‟u‟lláh‟s presence, they treasured whatever He
said. There are soul-stirring accounts of stories He told the friends of Himself, the Báb, of outstanding believers, and of the greatness of theCause. In the Holy Land, He continued this practice. Thus, it is not
surprising that at the Bahá‟í World Centre the storytelling tra
continues. Individuals relating how they became Bahá‟ís is a fascinating
part of our social life here. When we hear these stories, when we tell
stories of our Bahá‟í experiences, the love for Bahá‟u‟lláh and the Faith
that is expressed penetrates the heart. Our stories may expandconsciousness of spiritual realities. They deepen bonds of affection andlove.
Bahá‟u‟lláh loved humour. He often made believers feel at ease in Hispresence by mentioning amusing, trivial things. Here‟s a story you may
ke. Mírzá Ja‟far had been a Mullá in Iran. Soon after he met Bahá‟u‟lláh
in Baghdád, he accepted the Faith. He threw away prestige and power asa prominent religious leader. He was a servant in the household of
Bahá‟u‟lláh in „Akká. One day, the Muftí of „Akká visited Bahá‟u‟lláh. He
asked the Blessed Beauty to explain the meaning of a specific religious
theme. Bahá‟u‟lláh instructed Mírzá Ja‟far to answer the Muftí. He did so
brilliantly. The Muftí was astonished
a mere servant in Bahá‟u‟lláh‟s
household was so learned.
Mírzá Ja‟far was quick
witted. He often made Bahá‟u‟lláh laugh. One day,Bahá‟u‟lláh asked, “Mírzá Ja‟far, would you like me to reveal for yousome of your bad qualities?” Mírzá Ja‟far quickly, and very wisely,responded, “No, thank you!”
Storytelling is one of the oldest arts. It exists in every culture. In Africa,