ACCRA, Ghana As they toured the new Accra Ghana Temple proclaimed as among the most beautiful buildings in West Africa national and local leaders and tribal chiefs often spoke of their spiritual feelings, not of the physical beauty they saw.
African motifs appear throughout the building, in African landscape murals, in tree outlines showing subtly in the wallpaper, with the pattern of Ghana kente paper emblazoned in the stained glass windows, other patterns carved in the carpets and crystal palm fronds crowning the chandeliers. Such artistry is appreciated by the visitors and, combined with the spiritual setting, brings tears to the eyes of many.
The Church's first temple in West Africa, the 117th in the world, opened Dec. 1 for special guests and media representatives.
The president of Ghana, John A. Kufour, visited the temple Dec. 3. He spent more than an hour at the site with Elder Sheldon F. Child of the Seventy, president of the Africa West Area, Elder Emmanuel Abu Kissi, Area authority Seventy and three local stake presidents.
President Kufour expressed that he felt the spirit in the building and said the temple will raise the spirituality of the whole country. Elder Child presented him with a bronze figure of a pioneer wagon train and told him of the pioneer spirit he felt among the Ghanaian people, much like that of the Mormon pioneers.
Among the VIPS were the vice president of Ghana, Alhaji Aliu Mahama; members of Ghana's parliament; ministers of state (similar to a cabinet position); members of the Ga Tribal Council and judicial system; educators and chieftains.
Elder Child was extremely impressed with the many special guests that visited the temple. "We are grateful for the constitution of this great land of Ghana, which allows religious freedom to all. It was a privilege to host the leaders of various faiths as we walked side by side through the temple," he said.
Some 42 news reporters attended the open house and provided extensive coverage. The temple opened Dec. 3 for the public, and large numbers of people are expected during the next two weeks.
That Ghana is a very spiritual country was demonstrated by the comments of those visiting.
"The visit to the temple has really given me a greater insight to the LDS Church," said Bernice Welbeck, minister of manpower and development. "I am really convinced that contrary to what we were made to believe . . . the Church really is Christ and God centered."
"I believe Ghana is honored to have such a building," said Nii Adote Obour II. "Many laurels to the Church."
"This is my first visit to a temple," wrote one visitor who did not sign a name. "I believe your temple truly is a place of worship and God's home. Thank you for a chance to see what you have created on the soil of Ghana."
"The idea of the temple is a unique contribution to Christendom and very special to the development of the spirit," said Nana Ampen Darleoah I.
When the construction crews and their families toured the temple prior to the open house, it was the first time most had seen the completed interior. They seemed to be awestruck, speechless and amazed at what they had created.
While the public was touring the temple, youth in Ghana's stakes were rehearsing for the cultural show that will precede the dedication, a song and dance exhibition called "A Day of Celebration."
Nearly 1,000 are expected to perform. Enjoying this opportunity to express their African culture through song and dance, the youth of the Church in Ghana are having a wonderful, exciting experience helping to celebrate the completion of a temple on their land.