I love cemeteries. They’re so full of history. So when I’m given the opportunity to take a tour of one, I always take advantage of it. Years ago, I took a tour of the Old Jacksonville City Cemetery, and we were led to a little building which, frankly, I thought at first was a tool shed.
But the story behind it is much more interesting. Here lies Princess Laura Adorkor Kofi.
She was sent here from Ghana to encourage former slaves to return to West Africa. While here, she founded the Missionary African Universal Church and had quite a following. She spoke publicly throughout the United States, and was called Mother Kofi by her followers. There is a neighborhood here in Jacksonville called Adorkaville that is struggling to be restored that was founded by her followers. She was assassinated while speaking from a pulpit in Miami in 1928. Thousands attended her funeral.
There is a lot of fascinating obscurity surrounding Mother Kofi.
- Why did it take 5 months for them to get around to burying her?
- Why would a black African princess choose, in 1928, to make Jacksonville, Florida, then a deep, dark, racist enclave, her home?
- With so many followers, why couldn’t they come up with a more attractive mausoleum for her?
- Why can’t anyone agree on the spelling of her name? Is it Kofi, Kofey, or Koffey?
- Why can’t you find more details about her assassination? How was it done? Who did it? What became of him? What was the reason behind this heinous act?
- Why can’t I find anywhere that describes the exact location of Adorkaville on the web? Even the Adorkaville.com website doesn’t tell you.
- One would think it wouldn’t be hard to get preservation money for such an historical figure, but apparently some of her followers have broken off and are trying to sell the land out from under the ones who want to maintain it. Much controversy, it seems.
I would love to learn more about this fascinating woman, a woman leader at a time when women were supposed to stay home and behave, and an outspoken black woman in the deep south at that. I think her story deserves to be brought to the wider world. I hope someday all the questions that swirl around Mother Kofi will be answered.
For more details, such as they are, go here.