Cote d'Ivoire Celebrates 20th Anniversary of First Stake

Thousands of members from all the stakes of the Ivory Coast converged to the Abidjan Cocody Stake center on 2 September 2017 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the creation of the first stake in Côte d'Ivoire.

The ceremony was presided by Elder Vinson, President of the Africa West Area, and conducted by President Niamke, President of the Abidjan Cocody Stake, who, in his opening speech, welcomed the pioneers of the Church in Cote d'Ivoire in particular, the local church leaders and members in general.

The evening began with an opening hymn performed by the Abidjan Niangon North Stake Choir, followed by an opening prayer. Then, West Africa LDS pioneers Patriarch Affouè, Brother N'guessan Martin, and Sister Samade, gave messages and shared testimonies that really touched members. They talked about how the gospel had transformed their lives and those of the members in Cote d'Ivoire. Patriarch Affouè spoke particularly to the rising generation, bearing testimony of the importance of the law of chastity. He challenged them to respect this very important law as a divine principle that will prepare them to become good spouses in their homes and good parents to the children that our Heavenly Father will trust into their care. Then Brother Martin acknowledged and testified of a great missionary named Bidi André Zozo, one of the first missionaries in Cote d'Ivoire who passed away a month prior to this important event. He had helped plan the event with other Church leaders. All of them spoke of Zozo because of his great influence in the growth of the Church in Cote D’Ivoire.

Next, President Niamke introduced President Elder Terrence Vinson as the next speaker. Before he began his speech, Elder Vinson said, 'I prefer to listen to the songs in French.' He then expressed his thanks to the members in Cote d'Ivoire especially for their faith, strength, and diligence in the work of the Lord since his arrival in West Africa four years ago. He also pointed out that the Saints here are a privileged and loving people of our Heavenly Father. He testified that thanks to the huge effort of Brother Affouè Yapi Lucien and President Philip Assard. There are now about forty thousand members in Cote d'Ivoire. In twenty years we have gone from one stake to eleven. Finally, he read a letter in French that he wrote about the progress of the work in Cote d'Ivoire and at the same time announced the death of his mother-in-law in Australia, which explained the absence of his wife.

After President Vinson spoke, the progress of the Church in Cote d'Ivoire was discussed and it was announced that the celebration would continue over the next two months in each of the 11 stakes. The apotheosis of the celebration will be on 11th November 2017 at the Abidjan Toit Rouge Stake Center, the Ivory Coast first stake’s building. In preparation for this event, there will be cultural and sports activities, including football and athletics (100 meters, 200 meters and 4x 100 meters relay) organized in each stake, and a multi-stake football tournament culminating in the championship game to be held on the 11th. Additionally, there will be 100, 200, and 4×100 meters relays held that day.

After these announcements, there were performances by choirs, local singers members of the Church and a play stage recounting the history of the Church in Côte d'Ivoire. Brother Gballo Jonas, an artist, showed an exhibition of paintings on the history of the Church.

It was a marvelous and uplifting event and there was joy on the faces of the brothers and sisters that attended. All expressed their gratitude and are looking forward to the final ceremony, which will be on 11 November 2017.