Friday 7 October 2022

Laura Adorkor Koffi Ga Adangbe Prophetess from Gold Coast Ghana and her role in Pan Africanism in America

Laura Adorkor Koffi was a religious leader and Pan-Africanist who created the African Universal Church. Koffi was born circa 1895 in a Ga village outside of the city of Accra in Ghana.

In the early 1920s, Koffi served as a Prophetess in the Asofa village and ran a mission in Kumasi. Koffi moved to the United States via Canada in the mid 1920s and was a guest speaker in Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) divisions throughout the United States and Central America. Koffi gained significant recognition within the UNIA when she spoke in front of its members in Miami’s Liberty Hall in March 1927. Koffi boldly claimed to be the daughter of King Knesipi of the Gold Coast. Her oratorical skills bolstered her popularity, making her one of UNIA’s most recognizable leaders. With that popularity, Koffi attracted thousands of new members into the UNIA from Daphne, Alabama; and five Florida cities, Miami, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.

Koffi sudden rise led some members of the UNIA to question her origins and true intentions. Marcus Garvey, the founder and leader of the UNIA, began to despise Kofifi visibility within the organization. When Garvey heard that Koffi was suspected of raising funds to buy ships for her own African repatriation mission, Garvey dispelled her from the UNIA and called her a fraud in the Negro World newspaper. In response, Koffi created the African Universal Church in Jacksonville in 1928.

Koffi held church meetings, mainly in Jacksonville and Miami, where her talks were frequently disrupted by UNIA members. Koffi was assassinated on March 8, 1928, while giving a sermon in Miami’s Liberty Hall.

She was shot twice in the head from a crack in a door near the pulpit before an audience of 200. The shots killed Koffi upon impact. Audience members seized Maxwell Cook, a highranking official in the UNIA’s local branch, and beat him to death. Later Miami police arrested James Nimmo, a leader of the Universal African Legions, the paramilitary auxiliary group of the UNIA, and Claude Green, president of the UNIA’s local chapter. Green and Nimmo were tried and found not guilty on July 10, 1928, due to insufficient evidence. Three separate funeral services were held for Koffi in Miami, Palm Beach, and Jacksonville where she was buried on August 17. Hundreds of people attended when Koffi was finally laid to rest.

Koffi espoused a brand of Pan-Africanism that encouraged Black people to embrace African culture, become economically self-sufficient, and seek out religious redemption. The African Universal Church continued to advance Koffi”s  ideas after her assassination. Since 1928, the church has engaged in mission trips to the African continent, developed African history programs, created industrial clubs, and established communities, such as Adorkaville in Jacksonville. Leaders in the church’s early history were primarily migrants from different countries on the African continent. They gave free lessons to U.S. born church members on how to read and communicate in Bantu languages and taught songs in the Xhosa language. Two African Universal Churches still exist today, one in Jacksonville and one in Daphne, Alabama.

1 comment:

  1. Good article an excellent way to articulate. Keep it up


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