Kankam, Samuel

Catholic Church , Church of the Lord (Aladura)

Biography of Leader and Founder Samuel Kankam.

Samuel Yaw Kankam was born on the 23rd day of the month of April, 1941 as Peter Kankam, to Opanyin Yaw Kangah and Maame Yaa Pomah Tsatsa, both of whom hailed from Akonsia in the Western Region of Ghana. He was the youngest of nine other siblings. Opanyin Yaw Kangah (his father) was a family head and commanded a lot of respect from his peers and the entire community. His mother was a very religious person and a strong Christian (Catholic). She always instructed him to participate fully in the activities of the church and always took him along for worship services. However, his father was a very strong adherent of a traditional idol. His entire life revolved around venerating dwarfs. In accordance with a directive by the dwarfs, Opanyin Yaw Kangah made all of his children stay out of school.

Rev. Kankam spent his childhood years in his town of birth where he spent most of his time assisting his mother on his farm rather than going to school since it was against his father’s will for him to go to school. Furthermore, frequent childhood illnesses and injuries diminished any hope of him ever going to school. However, because he was so brilliant, many of the teachers in the village created and sought opportunities to teach him. According to Samuel Kankam, at a point in time some of the teachers resolved to keep him in school. They succeeded in doing that, but after a while (when he was in his final class of primary school), he developed a sore which gave a stench that was so bad that other students found it very difficult to study with him. His mother and some elders of the village tried to heal him to no avail.

Due to his condition, he had to sit outside the class whenever he could go to school and had to peek through the windows to be part of the lesson. Although his time in school was short, he made mention of one incident that convinced him that he would become a minister of the gospel. He remembers that there was a day when Archbishop Thomas William Porter, the then Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Cape Coast Archdiocese, visited their district for a grand confirmation ceremony in which he (Samuel Kankam) participated as a candidate for confirmation. When it was his time to be confirmed, he was asked by the bishop to tell the gathering what he wished to become in future. His response (although he had very little idea of the implication of his confession then) was that he wished to become a Reverend Father (based on what he had learnt from his mother and from the Roman Catholic church). Based on that confession, he was asked to stand aside till all the other candidates had been baptised. Afterwards, Archbishop Porter asked all ministers who were at the function to lay their hands on him in prayer, because, according to Archbishop Porter, Samuel Kankam would be mightily used by God in his service. It was at that gathering that Archbishop Porter changed Rev. Kankam’s name from Peter to Samuel.

Although he had not spent much time in school, he was submitted as a candidate for the common entrance examinations by his school. According to Samuel Kankam, any time he sat for any examination, he would have a dream the previous night, and in the dream a teacher would be teaching him. And, to his surprise, everything he was taught in the dream stayed in his memory and happened to be the exact answers to the actual examination questions. For this reason, he always scored full marks in all examinations he sat for. That was exactly what happened this time to win him a full scholarship to secondary school. Unfortunately for him, he instead had to settle for travelling to stay with an aunt in Takoradi (also in the western region of Ghana) to assist her on her farm because of his sore. He lived with his aunt for about three years during which his sore got healed apparently miraculously. Meanwhile, he gathered some money as well as acquired some experience which empowered him to make a decision to travel to Accra, the capital city of Ghana, to find better job opportunities at a tender age of thirteen.

At that time, he did not know anyone in the city who he could turn to in times of difficulty, and his most valuable possessions were his will and zeal to survive and make a good living for himself and the family he had left behind in his hometown. He knew things could be very difficult with possibly numerous setbacks. Nonetheless, he was motivated by the conviction that God was with him, and he believed that with God all things are possible if one believes. In Accra he lived on the streets of the main market called Makola at the city centre. From there, he walked for about fifteen minutes to the Holy Spirit Cathedral [1] for morning mass, daily. He worked as a head porter at Makola and because he was a very honest person, he had numerous clients who always patronised his services and offered him extra money. He faced lots of challenges and difficulties, which nearly cost him his life, but he was apparently miraculously saved from all of them.

Samuel Kankam made reference to one particular event which is still fresh in his memory. According to him, on a clear Friday morning he went to the Korle Gorno seaside to find work as a porter after he had returned from morning mass. The location had been recommended to him by a friend just some few weeks before the Homowo festivals of the Ga people of the Greater Accra Region in Ghana. Upon his arrival at the place, he realized that it was indeed a great location for business and resolved then to take maximum advantage of the opportunities that the place could offer him. Little did he know that there was a trap waiting for him. Later that same morning, he was approached by a gentleman to carry a pan full of fishes into a building which Rev. Kankam describes as resembling a lighthouse building. Although the load was not too heavy, the man offered to pay him much money, his amazement. He gladly carried the load and set out for the Lighthouse structure. Fortunately for him, a friend of his who knew that area very well was just close by and was observing them. To his utter surprise, his friend rushed towards him just some few meters before the he could reach his destination and pushed him violently to the floor, dropping the pan and its contents. His friend then helped him up to his feet and asked him to run after him, which he did without questioning his friend. In a distance he could see the man who had consigned him to carry the pan of fish and other people following them.

Working at AVH

They ran till they lost their pursuers and then took some rest. It was then that his friend told him that they would have killed him in that building for sacrificial purposes in connection with their upcoming festival. The turning point in his life came after he had just turned sixteen, when he had taken the decision to learn a trade or seek employment instead of working those menial jobs that could eventually jeopardise his life. He, therefore, decided to comb around town in search of such opportunities. After about an hour of doing so, he came across a queue of over a hundred men, and as he stood there wondering what the queue could be for, a voice called out to him, to his surprise. The voice was that of a gentleman he knew from Takoradi. The caller explained to him that recruitment was ongoing for construction labourers for a foreign construction company. He was initially reluctant to join them because he believed his lean physique would disqualify him. However, after they had both spoken to some few people in the queue, they gave him a place among them and promised him that they would plead on his behalf if the company refused to select him because of his stature; they would convince the employer about his ability to do the job. Just as predicted, the employer refused to hire him and asked him to leave the queue. True to their word, the others pleaded on his behalf. The employer eventually agreed to hire him on a trial basis. They started working after about an hour later, and he fully participated in the entire work process.

Furthermore, to the surprise of his employer, he was the only person to report to work the following day. All the others (including his friend who was instrumental in his hiring) failed to turn up for work. New workers came and went as days turned into weeks, but he still stayed on and worked harder as the time went by. After about three months, his immediate boss, who was an Italian expatriate worker, called him to his office. Originally, being called to the office often meant dismissal of whoever was being called there; therefore, he began to wonder what he had done wrong. To his amazement, he was told that as a reward for his hard work, he was being sent to the workshop so that he could learn a vocation of his choice. He wanted to become an auto mechanic but based on the advice of a mature friend he had made at work; he chose to learn welding. After he had sufficiently proven himself to the admiration of his colleagues and employers, he was transferred to work for Akamas Van Hara (AVH); the parent company of the subsidiary he worked for. His first ever work station was at Akosombo (a town in the Eastern Region of Ghana, where the county’s main hydro-electric dam is located). And, although he was far from his home, he never lost sight of where he came from and all the simple principles that had guided him until then.

His Marriage and contact with another church

Soon after starting work at Akosombo, he rose through the ranks to become a foreman in AVH. He managed to save enough money and decided that it was time for him to get married; he therefore sent a message to his parents about his decision. Upon receiving the news, his father immediately sent to him a young lady (Ama Nyame) who unknown to him had been betrothed to him by his father and the parents of the young lady. They got married in the year 1963 and soon after gave birth to their first child and named her Comfort Kankam. They had a good marriage till his wife joined the Church of the Lord (Aladura), a spiritual church.[2] He protested against his wife’s action, because, as a Roman Catholic member, he resented those churches; he wanted his wife to become a Catholic.[3]

He, unfortunately, fell ill for most part of the year 1962, a few years after his wife had joined the spiritual church. Although the illness grew worse with each passing day, he still held on to his Roman Catholic faith, rejecting any appeal by his wife that they should visit her pastor. According to him, he went to the Roman Catholic Church every morning to take part in the Eucharist with the hope that he would be made whole in no time; unfortunately, his condition grew much worse. The turning point came shortly afterwards when on one morning, he visited the church premises to take part in the Eucharist. On that fateful morning, the priest surprisingly tarried in his preparations. He thought for a moment that the delay might be because the priest had finally found a solution to his illness.

Unfortunately for him, it was the opposite of what he had hoped for; the priest came out with the saddest news of his life. He was in high spirits that morning when the priest finally got out of one of the numerous rooms and came to the altar where he lay. Uncharacteristic of the process he had become used to, the priest read a scripture passage and stood silent for a while. After the silence, the priest told him that that particular mass was special because it was going to be his last one. The priest said he had every reason to believe that Samuel Kankam was not going to be cured, and so he was preparing him for death. According to Samuel Kankam, immediately after the priest finished speaking, an emotion arose in him that made him want to physically confront the priest. However, all he could manage to do was to deny the pronouncement and further tell the priest that he was too young to die and that he would live. He then in anger asked his wife and his caregiver to send him home. On their way home, he told his wife that the priest’s behaviour was unfortunate and that he was ready to go with her to visit her pastor.

Immediately, his wife ordered their driver (he still kept his official car and driver by the benevolence of his employers, even though he was paralysed) to make a turn that would send them to the home of her pastor. Excited, she kept on singing till they reached their destination. Upon arrival, he was surprised at the sight of the pastor; he was a very young man, and did not look very healthy. However, he had no choice since he was already there.

The pastor examined him physically for a short while and asked him some questions. Afterwards, the pastor instructed some men to carry him to a part of the compound referred to as the mercy ground, a name that sounded strange to him. He was left there for almost the entire day with intermittent visits by some individuals who came there to say prayers.

In the evening of that day, he was sent to the church building to join them in their evening service. It was the first time he was participating in any other type of church service apart from the Catholic mass. The service was lively and throughout the entire service, he could feel some changes in his physical condition. After the service, before allowing him to go home, the minister had a short conversation with him and assured him that the Lord was more than able to heal him and that all he needed to do was to believe. Throughout the entire week, he visited the pastor daily and participated in their service. On the next Friday, he attended an evening service during which he was given a place at the back while the service progressed.

While the members of the congregation were busy singing praises and dancing, he saw men whom he described as angels flapping him with their wings from all angles, asking him to get up and join in the praise. He was reluctant but decided to start with the clapping of his hands; it continued till he sat straight. By then the minister had noticed the development and was urging the congregation to continue strongly. Then the minister moved to him and asked him to get up by holding him to his feet. By then he knew he had received his healing, and gave the glory to of God.

The entire congregation was thrown into a state of ecstasy and jubilation, but he could just not understand what had taken place and how he had been healed. He could just not stop wondering how the pastor had managed to heal him; he accepted it, performed all necessary duties, fulfilled all requests and resumed work the next Monday. He became a very strong member of the church and devoted all his strength to the service of the church in every possible way, especially financially, because he was then quite rich. This was in fulfilment to a promise he made to himself after the Catholic priest had declared him hopeless. According to Rev. Kankam, he had told his wife and the Catholic priest that he would look elsewhere for healing rather than accept what the priest had told him, and that wherever he received his healing, there he would dedicate his entire life to serve.

He wanted to find out how his healing came about; what the pastor used in healing him, and, most importantly, how he could also heal others. To achieve this, he asked the church and the pastor to allow him to be a cleaner for the church as well as for the pastor’s home. They reluctantly agreed after he had persisted, and he immediately started. He occasionally solicited the help of the rest of the cleaning team to rearrange the furniture in the temple. As he served the church in that capacity, he held on to his ulterior motive of wanting to discover what the minster had used to cure him. This went on for a while till the minister confronted him. In the confrontation, the minister made him aware that he (the minister) knew of his ulterior motive. The minister then explained to him that it was not he (the minister) but it was the LORD who had cured through only fasting and prayers. He also assured Rev. Kankam that it was possible for him to receive that gift if only he could fast and pray to God to empower him in that direction.

Based on the explanation given to him by the minster, he started fasting and praying continually. Although he had a very difficult job as a welder for the construction of the Akosombo Dam, he managed to combine his spiritual life and his work very well. This went on till 1963 when he was selected by his employers as part of a delegation that was to travel to Glasgow in Scotland for a training program sponsored by the Ghanaian government. By then he had surpassed his wife with regard to service to the church. According to Samuel Kankam, after the finalisation of all necessary formalities for the trip, the Lord appeared to him in a dream one night and commanded him to forget about the trip to Glasgow and rather serve Him. The news did not please his wife who had for some time been in serious disagreement with him upon an earlier announcement of his intention of quitting his job to become a pastor. His wife thus threatened that if he went ahead with his plan, she would divorce him. The quarrelling went on till one day when Samuel Kankam returned home from work and church service to find their home empty with his wife and daughter nowhere in sight.

His Divorce with his first wife

The next morning, he received news that his wife had travelled back to their hometown with the story that her husband (Samuel Kankam) had gone mad. He immediately decided to prepare and travel to his hometown the next morning. However, he claims that he had a vision that night in which the Lord appeared to him and asked him who he loved more, his wife or Him (the Lord), and when he responded that he loved the Lord more, the Lord instructed him to allow his wife to leave because He would give him another wife who would stay with him. In the midst of all these affirmations, there was a small part of him that was not sure about the path he had decided to take; he was a bit skeptical about the future in that he was not so sure he had the qualities of a pastor. Although he had given up on his wife and the opportunity to travel to Glasgow, he continued in his job but had some difficulties with his commitment to the work of God and that of the church.

At Accra Psychiatric Hospital

The conflict raged on within him till he asked to be transferred to Tema. While at Tema, he went about his everyday life as normal and expected a let-up or a break from God. However, the Lord revealed Himself once more to him in an emphatic way that changed the total direction of his life. This happened to him while he was at work. During his lunch break, he took out his pocketsize New Testament and started reading from the book of John. Immediately, he claimed that, a light flashed in his face and that was the last thing he could remember for three months. He said that, according to other sources (friends and family), he went about daily preaching and living in the Makola Market. The most distinctive feature of the market ministry he unconsciously performed was prophesying. He prophesied to many of the market women and bystanders, as he was led by the Holy Spirit, to the astonishment of all.

The real turning point came about when his family took him to the Accra psychiatric hospital for examination. On the first evening of his admission, he was kept in a very dark chamber by the doctor on duty, one Dr. Asare, and left on his own. After an hour or so, he saw a bright light similar to the one he had seen at work and also heard a clear song just as that of a choir singing. The doctor also heard likewise and went out into the street to find out where the song might be coming from. When he was unable to determine where the song was coming from, he went back and entered the dark room of where he had kept Samuel Kankam. There, he also saw the light and heard the music clearly. Very early the next morning, the doctor took him to his pastor, Patriarch Yamoah. At that point it became obvious (through a prophecy that came to the pastor) that all that had happened was the doing of God, who had appointed Samuel Kankam for His service. The pastor at that point prayed for him and decided to adopt him for training and placement. From then onwards, he had no option but to do the work of God.

His theological education

In 1971 Rev. Kankam was nominated by the Church of the Lord (Aladura) as one of the first individuals to be enrolled for theological education at the newly founded Good News Training Institute. He saw the opportunity as a great privilege and did everything possible to make the best of the opportunity. Unfortunately, just a year later he had to drop out of the programme for personal reasons for a couple of years. However, by what he saw as a special grace of God, he returned to the Institute to complete his course in 1974. He graduated with a diploma from the institution. In 1980, Rev. Kankam received a scholarship to travel to the United States of America to continue with his theological education at the Morris Cerullo School of Ministries in San Diego, California. He became the head of the Africa mission in the seminary and graduated with another diploma later the same year. He then returned to Ghana to start a new ministry based on a vision which he had received while studying in the United States.

Rev. Kankam became a very active minister of the gospel with an evangelistic inclination. He went out very often to preach the good news and also travelled to other parts of the country, where he established branches of the Church of the Lord Aladura. But it was at his first station where he met his wife, Mrs. Mercy Kankam with whom he has been married after his first wife has deserted him. Rev. Yaw Kankam was married to Mrs. Mercy Kankam, and they were married for thirty-nine years. His first marriage ended in an unusual and abrupt divorce. He had six children from both marriages (four of them; Kate, Jacobus, Telvis and Theodora being children from his marriage with Mrs. Mercy Kankam). Comfort Soma Kankam and Yaw Agyemang Kankam (deceased), were from his previous marriage.

The Concluding Years of Rev. Samuel Yaw Kankam

Rev. Kankam was intentional about his legacy during his concluding years. He therefore made some efforts in preparing his family and the church (especially), for life after his death. Even though that attempt was subtle, it was quite obvious to those who were close to him. As such, it was evident that he was putting his home in order in anticipation for such an eventuality.

Rev. and Mrs. Kankam rededicated their marriage in 2013. The occasion was special because, some few years after their actual marriage, the couple decided to take off their rings because people suspected him for having magical powers in his ring to perform miracles. Therefore, in order to safeguard the sanctity of the ministry, they decided to remove their rings. Their decision to wear rings again to symbolize their union made the rededication ceremony more interesting. Unfortunately, the Kankam family lost Kate Kankam after a short illness, shortly after the celebration. That unfortunate incident negatively impacted the family significantly, especially Rev. and Mrs. Kankam.

In 2016, Rev. Kankam celebrated his 75th birthday with a well patronized thanksgiving service and a dinner. Both events gave many people (family, friends, various church congregations, as well as well-wishers) the opportunity to celebrate him while he is still alive. Soon after the celebration of his 75th birthday, Rev. Kankam started experiencing health challenges. However, through prayers and medical attention, he managed to stay strong. It was during this period of intermittent ill health when his attempt to put in place a succession plan became obvious. He often declared that the most precious thing he could leave anyone with was Jesus Christ. He therefore encouraged everyone around him to rely on Jesus Christ alone, and not on any other person (or thing). In early July 2018, he was sent to the hospital for complications associated with prostate cancer. He subsequently underwent a surgery to correct defects on the prostrate. After the surgery, he was said to be doing well and on the road to recovery by his caregivers. Unfortunately, he passed on to be with the Lord to the surprise of many, especially his immediate family who were expecting to pick him from the hospital the next day, when he was expected to be discharged.

“I Care” Praise Centre (ICPC) is an African Independent Church (AIC)[4] located in Community Five Tema, in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. The church was established on February 5th, 1981 through Rev. Samuel Yaw Kankam at his Community Two home in Tema, from where church services were organised for almost two years. After about two years the church moved to a classroom in the Aggrey Road Primary School, also in the same Community, for regular church services. Afterwards, it finally moved to Community Five. The church has had two major changes of location before settling at its current location at Community Five which is considered permanent. The church had its roots in the Church of the Lord (Ghana) where Rev. Kankam served for over fifteen years as a minister in various capacities and locations. The church currently has a membership of about one hundred and twenty but has a regular attendance of about fifty to sixty on Sundays.

The church was established mainly as a result of an untimely schism which ensued after Rev. Kankam had returned from his educational pursuit in the United States of America. Apparently, due to his current level of education, he was considered a threat by the majority of the local leadership of the Church of the Lord (Ghana), who consequently asked him to leave the church. Having left the church, he felt inspired by God to gather another congregation for him, a congregation which will focus on Christ alone and the scriptures, making the church heavily ‘Christ-Centred’. “The name of Jesus is above all else and enough for deliverance from all situations”, as reiterated by Rev. Kankam, forms the basis of all the church’s beliefs and practices.

According to Rev. Kankam, while he was with The Church of The Lord (Ghana), there was a heavy dependence on ritualistic practices for dealing with almost all situations. All the various individuals who went to the church for prayer support and other forms of relief were asked to bring certain item(s) or perform one ritual/activity or the other in order to get solutions to their problems. He claims that the Lord asked him to completely avoid such practices and focus on the name of Jesus. The church, just as many others in the country, has had its fair share of internal disagreements (the major one will be dealt with extensively later in this paper). The very first disagreement, which took place in 1992, occurred partly as a result of some misunderstanding in relation to the structural organization on one hand, and what could be described as conflicting personal interests of the majority of the leadership, on the other hand. The second and major disagreement hit the church so hard that the church lost almost all of its branches, which were located mostly in the Greater Accra and Eastern regions of the country. This happened in the year 1995 and affected the church so much that its leader decided to give autonomy to the remaining few branches and concentrate on the main body in Tema. The church is situated in the heart of Tema (the urban hub of the country) and the majority of its members live in the same municipality.

Telvis Kankam


  1. A Catholic church which is located in Adabraka a suburb of Accra.
  2. African Independent Churches are also known as Spiritual Churches.
  3. She was formerly not a Christian before joining the Spiritual Church.
  4. African Independent Churches (AICs) are popularly called “Spiritual Churches” in Ghana.


Interview with Rev. Samuel Yaw Kankam, leader of ICPC at Community Five, Tema, on 2 nd and 16 th March 2012.

Interview with Madam Sarah Arthur, Trader, Elder, ICPC, Community Five (5) Tema, on 18 th March 2012.

Interview with Margaret Bonsi, Self Employed, Secretary, ICPC Community Five (5), at her house Number T21 C5, Tema.

Interview with Madam Rose Fofie, Trader, Elder ICPC Community Five (5), Tema.

This biography is reprinted with permission from: Telvis Kankam “Brief History of I Care Praise Church” in The History of African Independent Churches - Book One, eds., Mary Bjork, Lynn Hansen and Thomas A. Oduro, (Accra: Type Company Limited, 2022), 176 – 214. This biography has been edited for posting on the DACB website. All rights reserved.