Philip Quaque, a pioneering educator in Gold Coast (now part of Ghana), was not only the first African to be ordained an Anglican priest but was also the first African missionary. Quaque, son of a chief, was taken under the wing of the Reverend Thomas Thompson, the first missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG). Quaque was one of three Fante youth sent to England to be educated and was the only one who survived. In 1765 he returned home accompanied by a British wife. For the next 50 years he served as chaplain for Cape Coast Castle, the headquarters of the British business community in the Gold Coast.
Quaque attempted to use his position to evangelize his compatriots with little success. He was thoroughly assimiliated and had lost his ability to speak Fante after his sojourn in England, so he had to use an interpreter. On the one hand he was isolated from his family and people; on the other, he was rejected by the British. Hence, his ministry proved largely ineffective. The SPG gave him little support and often failed to pay his meager salary. As a result, Quaque had accumulated considerable dept by the time he died in 1816.
Over time, Quaque turned toward education, opening a school for Anglo-African children, primarily to train cherks for the colonial administration. In fact, most of the school’s students, including members of the BREW family, went into local businesses and later formed the core of African leadership in Ghana. After his British wife’s early death, he married an African woman, but he only began to rebuild his contacts with African society in his later years.
Norbert C. Brockman
Dictionary of African Biography. Algonac, MI, and New York: Reference Publications, vol. 1, 1977; vol. 2, 1979.
Lipschutz, Mark R., and R. Kent Rasmussen. Dictionary of African Historical Biography. 2nd edition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from *An African Biographical Dictionary, *copyright © 1994, edited by Norbert C. Brockman, Santa Barbara, California. All rights reserved.