William Eugene Amoako-Atta Ofori-Atta was a Ghanaian Christian patriot. Known affectionately as “Paa Willie,” he made a unique impact as a professional politician during the most turbulent periods of Ghana’s modern history. He was one of the so-called Big Six pioneering political leaders-including Kwame Nkrumah-who in the 1940s initiated the struggle for Ghana’s independence from British rule. A graduate in economics from Cambridge University and trained barrister, Ofori-Atta’s admiration for the ideals of British parliamentary procedure led him into the opposition under the First Republic (1960-1966) and into two periods of political detention. During the second, in 1964, he underwent a religious experience that changed his life. He continued to be active in political affairs in government in the Second Republic (1969-1972), and he endured detention in 1972 and 1978 as a leader of the People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice that had been founded to resist the new military junta. He also served as chairman of the Council of State in the Third Republic (1979-1981). Despite this consistent political involvement, his ruling passion was to spread the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Joint founder of the Maranatha Bible College and of the Christian Outreach Fellowship, an indigenous missionary society, he also advised many other Christian bodies and initiatives. The same revolutionary government that curtailed his political activity in 1981 paid him tribute at his death in July 1988: “He brought to politics a new breath of sincerity, modesty, and honesty…He did not use his talents or office for the acquisition of personal wealth, and he worked, lived, and died a simple and devoted patriot.”
William Ofori-Atta, Ghana: A Nation in Crisis (the J. B. Danquah memorial lectures, ser. 18, February 1985) (1988). Tribute to the Late Mr. William Eugene Amoako-Atta Ofori-Atta (Paa Willie), Member of the Big Six (1988).
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.