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George Ronald

David and Esther Tanyi

David and Esther Tanyi

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by Enoch Tanyi Nyenti

At the airport, while relatives dissolved in tears, the pioneers marched cheerfully to the plane.’

At just 25 years old, David Tanyi was the oldest of the five young Cameroonian Knights of Bahá’u’lláh – the four others were all under 21. Newly married, and forfeiting a job opportunity to go pioneering, he reached French Togoland in early 1954, and was named a Knight of Bahá’u’lláh together with Vivian Wesson and Mavis Nymon. David’s young wife Esther was only able to join him several months later together with their first son, born in his absence.

It was the start of 35 years of pioneering, during which Esther and David Tanyi experienced poverty, hunger and malnutrition, loneliness and xenophobia – but also the joy of teaching, and laying the foundations for Bahá’í communities in Togo, Benin and Ghana. ‘My heart is as sweet as sugar,’ wrote David Tanyi, ‘to see that the Faith is now spreading here is a miracle indeed. I tell you sister there are many pure souls here . . .’

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