Mormons in Africa: Church Helps Preserve Family Histories

by | Feb. 24, 2011

Opinions & Features

Throughout Africa, irreplaceable family information and traditions are being lost due to neglect, war and deterioration. But from Accra to Zimbabwe, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is helping preserve this valuable history so Africans can connect with their roots.

The Church has been involved in genealogy since 1894, but the African culture presents a unique set of challenges to family history research. Because most family information is passed down orally, the Church’s non-profit FamilySearch organization is focused on preserving both African oral traditions and records that can help people learn about their ancestors.

“In Africa, there is a proverb that states, ‘When an old man dies, it is as if a library has burnt down,’” said Ghanaian Church member Osei-Agyemang Bonsu. “Unfortunately, due to economic difficulties, many young people are moving from their villages, where they have the chance of obtaining information from the older people. The purpose of the oral genealogy project is to go to these old people and record what they know before they die.”

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