BETA

'Day of Rejoicing'

Jubilance marks cultural event, member meeting for Nigerians

ABA, Nigeria — Wearing traditional African attire and dancing the traditional dances of Africa, some 1,500 Nigerian Latter-day Saints presented "A Day of Rejoicing" Aug. 6 on the grounds of the new Aba Nigeria Temple.

A woman and young boy were among thousands who waited hours for cultural event. They listened via speakers to President Hinckley during member meeting.
A woman and young boy were among thousands who waited hours for cultural event. They listened via speakers to President Hinckley during member meeting. Photo: Photo by Dan Dockstader

And a day of rejoicing it was. Thousands of members from 15 stakes in this West African land gathered to watch the performers, mainly children and youth, celebrate with song and dance the rich heritage and history of their land.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, who dedicated the new Aba Nigeria Temple the following day, watched the performance.

Earlier in the day, Nduka B. Ojaide, former president of the Port Harcourt Nigeria Stake, stood watching as hundreds of smiling youth began milling around the grounds of the temple.

"Our youth are the future of the Church," he said, watching the young people go by, "They are the future of our nation. When I look at them, I see the future of Nigeria."

The future as well as the past was portrayed in this program, which began with a narrator describing the creation of the earth and ended with hundreds of white-clad Primary children gathering on the stage to sing "I Am a Child of God," "I Love to See the Temple," and "Families Can Be Together Forever."

"It's for the youth," said Sister Diane Clements, a Church Educational System missionary with her husband, Elder Louis Clements. "It's a chance for the youth to get together and have fun. For the Nigerian youth, it's been a wonderful opportunity to revise these traditional dance customs."

Several hundred children from stakes around Aba sing Primary songs in a pouring rain prior to cultural event on grounds of new Aba Nigeria Temple. The adjacent stake center was filled with members listening to President Gordon B. Hinckley during member meeting.
Several hundred children from stakes around Aba sing Primary songs in a pouring rain prior to cultural event on grounds of new Aba Nigeria Temple. The adjacent stake center was filled with members listening to President Gordon B. Hinckley during member meeting. Photo: Photo by Dan Dockstader

Sister Clements, who co-directed "A Day of Rejoicing" with Elder Clements, explained how they urged the five stakes around Aba which were assigned the dance sequences to choose someone to teach the youth these traditional dances.

The program on this warm, humid day began with a quartet of young men singing the national anthem of Nigeria, against a backdrop of all the flags of West Africa. Then the narrator described the earth's beginning and added, "When Adam populated the land with his children many of them made their home in West Africa."

Dancers then began to tell the story of Africa, including dances for hunters, herdsmen, fishermen, warriors and farmers. As the youth performed, others to the side depicted various lifestyles.

Portraying early Christian missionaries during the program were temple missionaries who walked onto the stage. "Talking drums," passing messages the way villagers once did, then began heralding the arrival of the first missionaries of the Church in 1978.

The program, which included the presentation of gifts to President Hinckley, ended with the youth choir and a choir of full-time missionaries taking turns singing verses of "The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning." The audience joined for an inspirational — and sometimes emotional — fourth verse.

One young man who will never forget is Kingsley EzeEme of the Hilltop Ward, Aba Nigeria Stake. A drummer for the program, he said participating in the cultural event and performing for President Hinckley will bring a "lot of blessings that will be bestowed on me."

Kingsley called "A Day of Rejoicing" a "joyful day."

Youth perform traditional African dance during cultural event that included some 1,500 performers. Five stakes in and near Aba depicted herders, farmers, fishmen, hunters and warriors through dance.
Youth perform traditional African dance during cultural event that included some 1,500 performers. Five stakes in and near Aba depicted herders, farmers, fishmen, hunters and warriors through dance. Photo: Photo by Dan Dockstader
President Hinckley accepts traditional African gifts from Ngozi Udensi and Maxwell Maduakolam during cultural event depicting African history.
President Hinckley accepts traditional African gifts from Ngozi Udensi and Maxwell Maduakolam during cultural event depicting African history. Photo: Photo by Dan Dockstader
Hundreds of members line the street leading to the temple grounds as President Hinckley's entourage arrives Aug. 5 in Aba, Nigeria.
Hundreds of members line the street leading to the temple grounds as President Hinckley's entourage arrives Aug. 5 in Aba, Nigeria. Photo: Photo by Dan Dockstader
Waving handkerchiefs as President Hinckley drives past, youth from the Aba Nigeria Stake line the road leading from the front gate to the temple and ancillary building. Hundreds stood for some four hours awaiting his arrival. Members also lined the road when President Hinckley first visited Aba, Nigeria, in 1998.
Waving handkerchiefs as President Hinckley drives past, youth from the Aba Nigeria Stake line the road leading from the front gate to the temple and ancillary building. Hundreds stood for some four hours awaiting his arrival. Members also lined the road when President Hinckley first visited Aba, Nigeria, in 1998. Photo: Photo by Dan Dockstader
Young men perform dances depicting hunters and warriors, including the Bende War Dance.
Young men perform dances depicting hunters and warriors, including the Bende War Dance. Photo: Photo by Dan Dockstader

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