Ivorian leader of the Harrist Church of West Africa.
Born Nanghui Togba, son of Ebrie chief Akadja Nanghui of the Côte d’Ivoire village of Abia-Gnambo (Petit Bassam), Ahui was renamed Boghui Ahui by his tutor. He became warrior chief of his age-group and married Jeanette Tohi in 1910. In 1914, during William Wadé Harris’s mission at Bingerville, he and his father were baptized. Having been drafted into the colony army, he was discharged after an accident and became lead chorister in his village. Uncertainty amid resurgence of traditional practices as well as British Methodist activity led him to undertake a trip in December 1928 to visit Prophet Harris near Cape Palmas, Liberia. Harris gave Ahui his blessing, his cross-staff, and his Bible along with a letter addressed to Ahui’s father, charging Ahui with responsibility as Harris’s successor. Ahui hesitated to obey, but after a nearly fatal sickness in 1936, he activated Harris’s mission in the face of colonial opposition. He rallied an Ivorian multiethnic grassroots movement, and despite illiteracy, was for fifty-seven years acknowledged as Supreme Preacher of the Harrist Church of West Africa, an African-initiated Christian community that extended from Côte d’Ivoire into Liberia, Burkina-Faso, Ghana, Togo, and Benin.
David A. Shank
Ahui’s story with biographical details is given by his son: Paul William Ahui, Le Prophète William Wadé Harris: Son message d’humilité et de progrès (1988). See also Lobo Kouassi, “John Ahui, Légataire Universel S’est Eteint,” Fraternité Matin, December 11, 1992, p. 4; Sheila S. Walker, The Religious Revolution in the Ivory Coast: The Prophet Harris and the Harrist Church (1983).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.