Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire Hosts 6th Annual ‘Strengthening Families Conference’ 


On 21-22 June 2024, the 6th annual Strengthening Families Conference (SFC) was held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Over 8,000 people attended the conference in-person at the Abidjan Exhibition Centre and 250,000 participated on-line through various platforms. The conference, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, brought together educators, government and community leaders, and interfaith and traditional leaders to discuss the important issues relating to families in Africa. SFC 2024 also included many musical guests and traditional performers.

Representing the Church of Jesus Christ at the conference were four African General Authorities of the Church — Elder Alfred Kyungu, Elder Thierry K. Mutombo, Elder D. Martin Goury, and Elder I. Raymond Egbo. They were joined by Elder Tonga Sai, an Area Seventy in Cote d’Ivoire, and the mission leaders from the four missions in the Abidjan area.


Over the two days of the conference, the attendees listened to keynote speakers, goodwill messages, and panel discussions involving the invited key opinion leaders. The theme of this year's SFC was strengthening marriage. The motivation for organizing the conference is to promote measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

The conference brought together leaders from throughout the world, with representatives from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, Togo, Benin, Kenya, South Africa, the United States, Ethiopia, Mali, and the host country of Cote d’Ivoire.

As part of the conference, over 40 booths were available for conference participants to visit with several religious and community-based groups represented alongside media and local businesses.

In his introductory remarks, Elder Goury noted that, although the conference was heavily subsidized by the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church was grateful to collaborate with the Ministry of Women, Families, and Children, as well as other like-minded organizations in Cote d’Ivoire.


“The Strengthening Families Conference is a testament to our collective dedication to fostering healthier, happier, and more resilient families,' he said.

The keynote speaker, Elder Alfred Kyungu, spoke with Sister Lucie Kyungu and his daughter Berniece.

“All of society revolves around strong marriages between one man and one woman. After 26 years of marriage, I have never raised my hand against my wife. We hold family councils, and because of regular intentional communication, we have really come to know and love each other,” said Elder Kyungu.

The distinguished guests included His Eminence Aseid Cherif Ousmane Madani Haidara, president of the Hight Islamic Council of Mali, and His Excellency Niankoro Yeah Samake, ambassador of the Republic of Mali.


His Eminence Cherif Haidara thanked the Church of Jesus Christ for organizing the event and challenged parents to remain approachable and open to family members. “We are not to be arrogant and put ourselves above the other members of our family,” he said in his remarks. “The prophet Muhammed was open, kind, and loving with all members of his family, and we should do the same.”

The Rt. Rev. Jeremiah Ngumo Kiguru from Kenya said, “The conference comes at such a very significant time in the world, when the very fabric of the institution of marriage and family is in dire need of God's abundant grace. The institution seems to be tearing from the seams left, right and center. Indeed, the institution is in great need of God's salvation. Time has come when all religious and faith-based institutions should engage in the redemption of the institution of marriage and family.”

Spencer James, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, spoke on the importance of marriage in building strong families and communities. “Some may ask, why improve marriage? The answer to that is devastatingly simple: marriage benefits children, adults, families and society at large. And marriage benefits sustainable development. There is a significant amount of research showing why marriage matters.'

On both days of the conference, panel discussions were held where many issues relating to marriage were discussed by the dignitaries. On the first day of the conference, the panel discussed mutual respect in marriage and how to deal with finances. On the second day, the panels considered how to balance time and how to deal with technology in families.

The conference included musical performances of artists from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria. Popular local artists Morijah and KS Bloom performed, as well as renowned soloists Doris (Deediva) and Urslar Essel. Ivorian traditional dancing group Sotheca performed on both days of the conference.

At the conclusion of the conference, it was announced that Freetown, Sierra Leone, would host the Strengthening Families Conference in 2025.