Princess Laura Adorka Kofi was born in Asofa, a small town near Accra, Ghana, in Western Africa. She was married and enjoyed a life of love and appreciation for her family. During the early 1920s, her life changed. The Lord God visited her and her father, a tribal king, in dreams and visions. God wanted to use her to do his will. God’s will was for Adorka to travel to America and deliver a message of hope and redemption to African Americans. She refused and resisted God by traveling to other parts of Africa. Adorka continued to avoid God’s calling, even after suffering two near fatal illnesses. But on the third near death illness, she ultimately, accepted the calling of God.
In 1924, the Princess became a Christian. As an evangelist, Adorka prepared herself for the journey by studying the Holy Scriptures and meditating on the Lord. Adorka also embraced the self-help principles of her church and strategies for economic development that she planned to bring to America. Her father, ruling officials and church ministers endorsed her mission and also charged her to extend open arms and a hardy welcome to African Americans. Adorka arrived in the America, via Canada. She continued her journey by speaking at civic halls and churches in New York, Detroit and Chicago. Many of the church leaders were impressed of her teachings and compelled her to join their organization. But in the spring of 1927, she was compelled to travel further into the southern part of the United States. Her life was plagued with difficulties and opposition from religious leaders. Although she did not live see the fulfillment of God’s program, as with Christ’s Disciples (Except for John), Saint Stephen and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, she died as martyr, knowing that God keeps his promises.
Thousands of people began to follow Adorka. Aside from her opposition, many other community and church leaders respectfully called her “Mother Kofi”. She devoted countless hours helping families and children with less fortunate circumstances. However, the Ministerial Alliance condemned her work. Prominent ministers were enraged and resented her because the membership at their churches declined. When Adorka’s supporters feared for her life, she was assigned bodyguards.
In Jacksonville, Florida, officers of her own organization filed false statements to the police alleging that Adorka Kofi stole money from them. On a Saturday night before the 4th Sunday in September 1927, police ordered out of her bed and placed her in jail. Her opponents also tried to get her deported back to Ghana.On March 8, 1928, while preparing for a speaking engagement at a public building in Miami, Florida, Adorka Kofi somehow knew that her life would be cut short. She asked God that when her time to die approached, that she would be in the presence of her supporters. She wanted her supporters to be witnesses that she “fell down for them”, in Jesus’ name.
During the months of September – November 1927, Mother Kofi was kept busy, in and out of jail and court meetings in Jacksonville, FL. On Saturday night before the fourth Sunday in September 1927, Mother Kofi suffered a powerful combination of her enemies to have her arrested sometime during the midnight hours. Powerful race leaders influence five people to swear out warrants against her. The warrants said she had taken money from them under false pretenses. Her accusers connived to have her arrested during the dead-of-night so that her followers would not be able to get her out of jail until Monday. (During this era, Blacks were not released from jail on Sundays) The plan also included for a big Sunday service for spiritual leaders to tell people of the shame and disgrace of that “African Woman”. Her opponents wanted her deported for “allegedly” lying and robbing the people.
Mother Kofi was taken away to jail, at night, just as plans were made against Christ to arrest him, in the dead of night. Only a few from her multitudes of children (followers) could be informed because, telephones were not plentiful in homes. A group that was blessed to hear the news was a praying band of her followers. They immediately fell on their knees and sent up prayers to the Throne of their Mother’s God. They remembered how the early Christian Church prayed in a “house” until God sent His Angel to free Peter out of jail.
Truly, prayer does change things. The Most High God does hear and answer simple, sincere, earnest prayer and He does not require any special “thing” to be used, only a clean, humble heart. So it did pleas our Mother’s God to send His Spirit to move in the hearts and minds of the authorities to release her that Sunday morning and the men of her organization put up bond for her the following Monday. Mother Kofi’s release from jail on a Sunday was hailed as a tremendous victory by her followers. To them, it was proof enough that God was on her side, because blacks of any rank, were never released from a Jacksonville jail on a Sunday. History was made in Jacksonville.
By Sunday morning, the news of Mother’s arrest, jailed and release had spread near and far. The devil was outdone again because even more people rejoiced that Mother was out of jail. Many crowded the house on Florida Avenue, where she resided. More crowds turned out to the meetings that Sunday afternoon and night to see and hear and greet Mother themselves. Her followers were very sorrowful that such a terrible thing had happened to their beloved Mother. Others were bitter and angry over the cowardly, dirty deed that had been carried out against her. Here it was, an innocent woman, away from home and only preaching the wonderful” Gospel of Glad Tidings”.
“But they mocked the Messengers of God, and despised His Word, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, Till There Was No Remedy.” (II Chronicles 36:16)
The Christ Spirit within Her
When Mother came out of jail, she never appeared as one who was in any way distressed over what her own race of people had done to her; neither did she convey the impression that she was inviting sympathy on her behalf. Instead, Mother demonstrated that she bore no ill-feelings or malice against any of her children who were mixed up in this treachery, not even those who had sworn the state warrants against her. She seemed to come out of jail endowed with a heart more full of LOVE than ever before. When she was questioned about deceitful “Negroes” who were only paying lip service to her, Mother declared she loved them too. Mother said, “All of them are my children too. Some of my children good and some of my children bad, but your Mother love every one of you.”
Satan tried to discourage or kill her spirit by having her put in jail, but he was outdone again. Coming out of jail, Mother was now even more of a spiritual power than ever before. When she preached with soul-stirring exhortations, she taught the Word of God, saying:
“Now your Mother knows how St. Paul felt and all the Apostles when they were cast into prison for His Name’s sake. They are doing to your Mother just like they did to my Lord Jesus, but my hands in Jesus Hands and my Old Man God is to my back. Children with god to help me, I am tracking Him track by track. And with God to help me, I won’t surrender neither compromise or take back a single word. In the words of St. Paul, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come….shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38 – 39)
In her discourse on the Sunday that she came out of jail, Mother took time to relate her experiences in her own cheerful manner. She seemed to be amused at the incidents she had witnessed from the time she was arrested until release from jail. But to her children, her sense of humor through such a trying ordeal, only meat nothing but the Christ-Spirit in he could have kept her in such a peaceful state of soul, minded and body. Mother reflected upon the Gospel by saying:
“Thou salt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in Thee. And again, the Spirit of our Lord Jesus declared unto St. Paul, ‘My grace is sufficient.”
Mother shared an experience with her children regarding the ride to jail. The police care she was riding that night had to stop to pick up a man who was causing a lot of trouble and threatening violence in the neighborhood. She said the man was still talking loud and making threats when the police put him in the back seat where she was sitting. The man was extremely rude until one of the policemen warned him and said:
“Shut up “boy”! You are sitting beside the Princess back there!”
“Mother said all of a sudden her son (the unruly man) calmed down, took off his cap and nervously made bows to her. He acted as if he was lost for more words. He moved over to the far side of the seat and didn’t say another word.” When in jail, different police officers kept telling me, “Princess, we did not put you here; your own people got you here!”
Mother explained to her children that she was stripped naked in jail because our race misleaders had the authorities to believe that the tremendous power she had over people did not come from God, but they said it came from the ‘roots” she had on her body, but none was found on her. This experience is among many that bring to mind the persecutions, imprisonments and humiliations which our Lord Jesus suffered at the hands of His race of people. “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.”
All through Mother’s Ministry, there were powerful groups of black influential leaders who undertook to impress the authorities against Mother, not only in Jacksonville, FL, but also in Mobile, AL, Miami, Tampa and St. Petersburg, FL. But it pleased our Mother’s God that the authorities would refuse to act on their complaints and would send them away. In many instances, they were told to become “followers of the African Woman themselves.
In Mobile, AL, Minister’s Alliance caused a large group of Sheriffs and Police to be present in one of her meetings. When Mother had finished speaking, the authorities told the Black preachers to “preach like that African Woman!
Preliminary Court Case
On Thursday, September 29, 1927, following the Saturday night when our Mother was arrested, preliminary hearings were held before Justice of the Peace J. C. Madison, Jacksonville, FL. The warrant charged Mother with taking a dollar from each of them under false pretenses. The state warrants were sworn out against her by Eddie Dennis, Hattie Jackson, Addie Scott, George W. Parker and Arthur Glass. Like the great majority of Mother’s children, these people were highly respected Christians and were well known among the black community of Jacksonville. These individuals were among the original members who actually welcomed Mother when she first came to Jacksonville. Brother Arthur Glass was the Treasurer and it is in his spacious home where Mother first lived. Brother Eddie Dennis was the Financial Secretary, Brother Parker was the President. Hattie Jackson and Addie Scott, as with the others, were residents of good report in the community.
In the court session, the witnesses against Mother stretched their testimonies and added:
“Mother had lied and told them of the streets of glittering gold in Africa. The streets in Africa were forty-nine miles long and more than half a mile wide. Diamonds could be picked up from the beaches at low tide. A man could have as many wives as he wanted and the women as many husbands as she wanted. She taught members of the black race to rebel against the whites.”
As for as experienced Christians, it is an old story but strangely true today, how the devil can so subtly overtake responsible people and use them to distort the truth and even fabricate lies against a best friend. As plainly said in the scriptures:
“For it was not an enemy that reproached me….. But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.” (Psalm 55: 12 – 14)
It was reported that the court session with the Justice of the Peace was attended by hundreds of Mother’s followers and those of opposing side. The streets were lined with many more who could not gain admittance in the crowded court room. Attending the trial, Mr. J. A. Craigen of Detroit, MI. Mr. Craigen was one of the National Executives of the once famous Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). He was known to be among the leaders directing the operations in the case against Mother Kofi. While in Jacksonville, Mr. Craigen lived at the first class Richmond Hotel. He was daily seen going to and from in a black limousine driven by a uniformed chauffeur. He was accompanied to court by a private secretary, a bodyguard and a white man whose identity was not publicly established. Mr. Craigen communicated with Mr. E. B. Knox that had ties in Atlanta and New York. Mr. Knox official title was Acting President-General of the UNIA and personal representative of Mr. Marcus Garvey. Mr. Garvey was in an Atlanta prison.
The trial lasted three hours and at the conclusion of the hearing, the case was referred to criminal court. At this stage, it appeared that Mother’s enemies had gained a victory for themselves. They had reason to rejoice that the lower court decided the case to be serious enough to have Mother Kofi tried in criminal court. The higher court has authority to sentence and order Mother Kofi deported after serving a term of years in jail. Her enemies further calculated that a conviction would destroy the confidence and interest of the public in Mother Kofi, therefore, crushing her and her program forever. Indeed such a trying situation was enough for the best of mortals to find some way to escape from this battle scene. However, loyal followers felt confident that their Mother was already consulting Her God and that in His own due time; He would reveal to her what steps to take. Cowardly acts by Mother’s opponents “cemented” her follower’s faith in her as a messenger and Prophet of the Most High God, who alone had transformed her into such a glorious Christ-personality and having called her out of Africa to awaken her people back to His Program.
A short time later, in one of her meetings, the Spirit of the Lord was upon Mother Kofi and she told her children what God would have her to do. Mother said:
“Children, my God showed me, that if I go back home to Africa, it is death, and I stay here it is death and with God to help me, your Mother will not surrender neither compromise or take a single word back. If Old Man God deemed me worth to suffer for His Program, me tell Him, thank’ee.”
Mother reveals that it is her God whom she made a contract with to come over here (America) to do His will. If she went back home, as a “sell out”; she would die as not being faithful, to the end. Yet, if she stayed here (America), it would cost her life. It would be far better to stay and obey His will, unto death in Christ Jesus. She then declared there was no choice for her but to obey God and do His pleasure and to carry on, in His name.
Faced with treacheries and physical dangers by day and by night, Mother Kofi nevertheless busily engaged with her program in the same cheerful Christ-Spirit that caused many to love her so dearly. Mother Kofi quoted a passage in the bible from Jesus suitable for the occasion:
“Children, Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body (St. Matt. 10:22). My God showed me I must give up my life in His Program, then, I can do more for you and my children everywhere. All I have asked my Old Man God is to take me in the presence of my children that they be witnesses I went down for them.”
The following are statements are from an eye witnesses attending the criminal court hearing. Ms. Gladys Porter, one of several bodyguards assigned to protect the princess, said:
“The Judge asked Mother Kofi if she was the little woman that had all these ignorant Negroes fooled that they were going to walk on golden streets and have diamond houses and all of these things?”
Mother Kofi replied: “I savvy talk no lie on topside of the earth, Mr. Honorable Judge.”
Mother asked for a glass of water and she sat the glass of water on a table before the judge and jury. She took her little black bag and removed a bottle and poured the contents into the water. The content was gold and sand. The sand went to the bottom of the glass and the gold floated on the top of the water. Mother said:
“Mr. Judge, if they want to make golden streets, ah, savvy they got the gold to make’em.”
Next, she removed a rock from her bag. The rock contained diamonds. She showed the rock to the judge and jury. Mother said:
“They could build theses houses with these diamonds and these rocks, if they mind to do and they shine so bright until they would have to smear cement over them. I don’t savvy to talk no lie on the topside of de earth.”
The Judge and jury got up and walked around to observe the glass of water containing gold dust and sand and the rock containing diamonds. Then, the Judge rendered his decision. The Judge said:
“If you can do anything with these ignorant people, you’ll do more than anybody has. We have never been able to do anything with them.”
All counts were discharged and the case dismissed.
During the hour 9 PM, Mother Kofi was ministering from the gospel of St John, 14th Chapter. She ordered the bodyguard near the platform side door to be seated. Within a short moment, a man pointed a gun through the cracked door by the platform and fired a single shot. The bullet pierced her in the head. Adorka Kofi died instantly. Thousands attended Adorka’s funeral services as her remains were transported to various cities in south Florida. In Jacksonville, Florida, her body lied in state, in a glass top casket. After a long delay, officials in Ghana gave permission to supporters of Mother Kofi to lay her to rest in the United States. On August 17, 1928, the Nubian princess, her body wrapped ‘mummy style’, was finally laid to rest in the Old Duval Cemetery, downtown Jacksonville, Florida.
The Story of Mother’s Ministry, by E. B. Nyombolo, pages 4 – 19
Mother’s Sacred Teachings, by E. B. Nyombolo, pages 68 – 69
Holy Bible, King James Version, Passages from Old and New Testaments
Note: Reference material produced by E. B. Nyombolo was distributed to and for African Universal Churches, between 1960 and 1968.