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Emmanuel Alfred Kwadwo Ofosu
1932 to 1974
The Church of the Lord (Aladura)
Ghana



Emmanuel Alfred Kwadwo Ofosu was born in 1932. The identity of his biological parents was a mystery because he was reticent about who his biological parents were. He told many people that his father was Opanin Kwaku Tenkorang who was in actual fact a cousin of his biological father. It was not until many years after his death that it came to light that Opanin Kwame Ofosu was his biological father. The identity of his biological mother, Maame Akosua Animwaa, who was christened Comfort Agyebin after baptism, was similarly not known to many people. Consequently, not much is known about the parents of Ofosu, except for the fact that they are deceased. There is also little known about his siblings except that of Kwadwo Omari, one of his brothers.

Another mystery concerned his hometown. Until his burial, everyone believed without doubt that his hometown was Obomeng, a town on the Kwahu ridge in the Eastern region of Ghana, but after his death the elders of the family corrected that notion. Consequently, he was buried at Asakraka, another town on the Kwahu ridge – his actual hometown. However, he spent most of his early days at Nsuta, a village on the Kwahu ridge.

Not much is known about his early education; it is believed that he attended a secondary school after which he was employed as a storekeeper at CFAO, a French Department store in Takoradi, in the Western region of Ghana. He joined the Church of the Lord (Aladura) in 1953 during the initial stages of the establishment of the church in Ghana. He underwent training in Sierra Leone in 1954, and in 1955 he returned to Ghana to commence pastoral ministry.

Marriage and Family

In 1958 Ofosu married Theresa Ofosu, an indigene of Sierra Leone, under ordinance. Theresa was simply and affectionately called “Maame Sa Leone.” The marriage was beset with fertility problems so Maame Sa Leone spent most of the time shuttling between Ghana and Sierra Leone. She finally abandoned the marriage and settled in her home country of Sierra Leone. However, Ofosu claims that he divorced her.[1]

Ofosu married again in 1971. His second wife was Cecilia Essamboi, a nurse. The marriage took place at Nkawkaw, a town in the Eastern region of Ghana. Two years later, he married Beatrice Owusu Ansah while he was still married to Cecilia. Both marriages were conducted according to custom. His marriage with Cecilia was blessed with a baby girl in 1972. He named the child Lilian Ofosu. He also had a son with Beatrice, Prince Ofosu, born on May 30, 1974.[2]

The Pastoral Ministry of Emmanuel Ofosu

He worked hard at planting congregations of the Church of the Lord (Aladura) in most parts of Ghana and the church grew tremendously under his leadership. He was known to be affectionate, amiable and approachable. These qualities endeared him to the hearts of many important people in Ghanaian society. He had a great passion for church planting and he planted congregations at many stations, including Konongo, Tepa, Sunyani, and Abesim. As a result, Primate Oshitelu consecrated him “Apostle” of the church in Ghana in 1965, and so he was popularly called “Apostle Ofosu.” The position of “Apostle” was the highest position in the church in Ghana at that time. He was the first Ghanaian to be consecrated “Apostle” in the Church of the Lord (Aladura). Subsequently, he moved to South Suntreso, a suburb of Kumasi, at house number B8. In 1967 he fractured his leg in a motor accident while traveling to Berekum, in the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana, on a pastoral duty.

As an Apostle, Ofosu trained many pastors. He was a role model to most pastors in the Church of the Lord (Aladura), some of whom lived with him for many years. Many of the pastors he mentored attest to his pastoral qualities. Their testimonies paint a picture of man who above all was a “complete man of God.”[3] Many of those he mentored have commented upon the encouragement he gave to them, and to all, “irrespective of age and position.”[4] He had a stammer and so he spoke quickly, which sometimes caused people to mistake him for an impatient man.[5] However, the memory of his disciples is that he was humble and approachable: for example, asking for evaluation of his sermons, for help in prayer, and for opinions of his dress and lifestyle.[6]

He was a man of prayer. As one of his former mentees said, “prayer was like food to him… he prayed three hours every day. Even when traveling he prayed. He jokingly called his house, B8 at South Suntreso, ‘the powerhouse of the Aladura church’ because of the amount of prayer that went on in the house.”[7] Apostle Winfred Boakye Agyemang supported this view of Ofosu, saying, “He was a man of prayer and fasting and a great crusade preacher.”[8] He believed fasting was a very important discipline alongside prayer. According to Yiadom-Boakye, “for three years I never had breakfast or lunch. We ate only supper. We fasted till the urge to eat was absent in our lives.”[9]

Yiadom-Boakye remembers that he was passionate about the ministry, hating “to hear bad news about God’s work” and not wasting time “with pastors who were not committed to the ministry. He also did not tolerate gossip. He wanted faithfulness.”[10] He also remembers that Ofoso would not accept monetary gifts from those he helped and that sometimes they would give money to his disciples because he refused to accept it. [11] As for his preaching, he is remembered as having a brief style, and a love of traditional lyrics and spiritual hymns.[12] Yiadom-Boakye recalled that “His favorite Bible texts always focused on faith and encouragement,” and that Ofosu gave him advice he would never forget:
He said, “Never judge people by their appearance; particularly those who are visibly poor; remember that it is the poor people who direct rich people to go to church.”[13]
Particular Ministerial Gifts of Apostle Ofosu

Ofosu had many ministerial gifts that helped him lead the Church of the Lord (Aladura) for nine years. The pastors he worked closely with, however, remember the following gifts which they think were particularly strong in him: philanthropy, healing, and prophecy. He was known as a philanthropist, sometimes even to the extent that it would make his disciples angry. He gave freely to those in need, giving candles, olive oil, money etc. As a result of this, many children were named after him. [14] Ofosu is also remembered fondly for his healing ministry. He had a reputation as a great healer who healed all kinds of diseases including epilepsy and mental illness. In addition, he had a wide knowledge of herbal medicine.[15] Those who knew him also testify to his prophetic gift; he prophesied things that were fulfilled exactly and, according to Yiadom-Boakye, was almost frightening in his ability to read people.[16]

It is even believed that he foresaw his death:
He prophesied that a great prophet was going to die but people should not be worried about the death. Again he prophesied that there would be a well at the burial ground of the place where that great prophet would be buried. This occurred exactly at Asakraka where he was buried. Till now whenever it rains clear water comes from the ground where he was buried – a fountain.[17]
Yiadom-Boakye supports this belief, remembering that before Ofosu left for the journey that would claim his life, he charged him with the responsibility for all his affairs, which was not something he had ever done before.[18]

The Death of Apostle Emmanuel Alfred Kwadwo Ofosu

Before his death Ofosu was charged, with Primate Adofo, with causing disturbances in the Church of the Lord (Aladura). However, a large section of the church supported them for calling for total autonomy from the Church in Nigeria. Their followers saw them as beacons of hope for the church in Ghana. Ofosu and Adofo were, therefore, at the forefront of the call for autonomy; they moved and strategized together. This is why on August 27, 1974, both leaders were in the car that was involved in the accident that claimed Ofosu’s life.

That day, the two men had been in Lomé (the capital of Togo) and were returning to Ghana when Ofosu told Adofo that he was weary of the struggle and wanted Adofo to continue with it without him. The two men joked together, and Adofo urged Ofosu to remain strong, so that he would not be seen as a coward. Adofo says he did not realize at the time that Ofosu was bidding him farewell.[19]

Lomé shares a border with Aflao, a town that serves as the eastern gate into Ghana, and was home to one of the biggest Aladura congregations in the Volta region (where there were many congregations). Ofosu and Adofo had gone to Lomé to help settle a dispute between Deacon William Mensah Fiadonu and the Atatsi family. Fiadonu was a supporter of the Ghanaian church’s call for autonomy. However, he was a tenant of the Atatsi family whose head, Peter K. Atatsi, was the General Warden of the congregation at Aflao and a supporter of Solomon Krow, a Nigerian loyalist and of the Nigerian cause. Two members of his family had threatened to kill Fiadonu if he did not change his allegiance. Ofosu and Adofo were friends with members of the Atatsi family and so decided to go to Aflao and urge them to be cautious and see the matter as a religious issue. They settle the situation amicably, advising Fiadonu to find alternative accommodation, and then went on to Lomé where they had lunch before beginning the journey back to Ghana.[20]

Ofosu and Adofo were on the Tema-Accra motorway when the accident occurred. A sand tipper truck hit the side of their car, the side where Ofosu was sitting. They were taken to Tema General Hospital where Ofosu died of internal bleeding. Adofo was also in the hospital being seen by doctors when he was told that Ofosu had passed away. For a while there was a rumor that both men had died, and so Adofo had to be strong in order to reassure the distraught members of the church, even though he felt terrible and could not eat.[21]

The Funeral and Burial of Apostle Ofosu

The funeral of the late leader of the church was held in Kumasi at Bantama, which is where the headquarters of the Church of the Lord (Aladura) is located. Police sealed the side of the Bantama church. Ofosu’s colleagues wanted to bury him at South Suntreso in Kumasi but his family wanted him to be buried in his hometown. They were not allowed to bury him at Nsuta, near Nkawkaw (his village) because the grave was dug at the source of a river. While digging the grave, a delegation from the chief of Obomeng was sent to tell them that it was a taboo to bury a Kwahu indigene beneath the mountain. An exception is only made in the case of death through an infectious disease. A third grave was then dug at Obomeng but the chief of Asakraka demanded that Ofosu’s body should be buried there, as Ofosu was an indigene of Asakraka. The church did not have a burial plot in Asakraka and so a spot in the Catholic cemetery was generously donated by the Catholic priest of the town. Ofosu was finally buried at Asakraka three days after his scheduled burial. Later, the church at Asakraka donated land for a burial and an attempt was made to exhume Ofosu’s remains in order to rebury them. In the process, those involved in the exhumation were taken to the police station at Kwahu Tafo, charged with exhuming a body without a letter from the Ministry of Health. They were released, and they reburied the corpse.[22]

Apostle Emmanuel Ofosu was only forty-two years old when he died yet he touched many lives. Primate Adofo considers him a martyr, someone who died because of his unflinching religious convictions. Although it was untimely, his death inspired members of the church to continue to carry on the fight for total autonomy.

Thomas Oduro

Notes

1. Frank Fiawoo, “Head had 8 wives – Aladura Probe told,” The Ghanaian Times, July 5, 1974.

2. Seth Adofo, Primate of the Church of the Lord (Brotherhood), interviewed by author, January 11, 2010, Kumasi.

3. Dan Boakye-Yiadom, Bishop of the Church of the Lord (Brotherhood), Kumasi Diocese, interviewed by author, February 26, 2010, Kumasi. Bishop Dan Boakye-Yiadom is known to have been very close to Apostle Ofosu. He was trained by Apostle Ofosu when he (Daniel) began his pastoral ministry as a disciple, the lowermost pastoral position in the church. He lived with Apostle Ofosu for six years.

4. Christopher Tetteh Annor, Apostle and diocesan head of the Church of the Lord (Brotherhood), Koforidua Diocese, interviewed by author, February 26, 2010. He claims to have been close to Apostle Ofosu from 1965 to 1974.

5. Dan Boakye-Yiadom.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Apostle Winfred Boakye Agyemang, Apostle of the Church of the Lord (Brotherhood), interviewed by author, April 10, 2010, Tema. He worked with Ofosu for nearly eighteen years.

9. Dan Boakye-Yiadom.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.

15. Comfort Agyemang, wife of Apostle Winfred Boakye Agyemang, interviewed by author, April 10, 2010, Tema. She claims that Apostle Ofosu taught her how to use herbs to heal.

16. Dan Boakye-Yiadom.

17. Margaret Amoah, Bishop of the Church of the Lord (Brotherhood), Accra Diocese, interviewed by author, February 25, 2010, Kumasi.

18. Dan Boakye-Yiadom.

19. Seth Adofo.

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid.

22. Ibid.


This story, received in 2015, was written by Thomas Oduro. Rev. Thomas Oduro, Ph.D., is the President of Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra, Ghana, and Regional Adviser to the DACB.