The world was at the brink of war. As war cries intensified it became imperative for the colonies to supply some of the manpower for the war effort. The Gold Coast, presently Ghana, was no exception and several companies rallied to feed the mother army. CONSOLIDATED AFRICAN SELECTION TRUST (CAST) a British mining concession in AKWATIA in the then Gold Coast was no exception. One conscientious objector was a young man in his early twenties. He was CHARLES KWABLA NUTORNUTI WOVENU.
At this time he was beginning to experience a spiritual phenomenon that caused him to sing, preach and pray involuntarily. He formed choirs and prayer cells and would rather continue doing the work of God. The cost of his objection was the forfeiture of income and the loss of his possessions, except for a little hand bell. He left Akwatia as a result.
He arrived at Anyako, the little village of his birth on October 31st 1939. This village held nothing for him, so early the following day he left for TADZEWU a nearby village. The following day, November 2nd 1939, with his bell in hand, he went around the village and announced that he had come to establish a school. This was not new to the villagers.
The village was steeped in paganism and boasted as the capital of many YEWE cults. Their further boast was that the power of their cult was able to subdue Western religious gods. Indeed many missionaries had come to establish a beach- head in Tadzewu, but they all failed under mysterious circumstances. This bolstered the spiritual claims of the cult leaders, and increased their following from far and near. The village regarded itself as untouchable from the Western religious institutions. Hence they were assured that the effort the young man was about to make would fail.
Seven little boys remained from a large gathering of children. Most of them left due to parental and peer pressure. What remained became the nucleus of THE APOSTLES REVELATION SOCIETY
In the above picture Wovenu and his first pupils who became the
nucleus of the church are shown.
This young man galvanized the entire village and other villages far and near. His following increased to the utter amazement of everybody, including himself. He told me He did not direct the activities of his group, but that a force greater than he directed it. He started out to form a school to fight the prevalent abject poverty and illiteracy, but he found that his preaching received far more attention than the famed three Rs.
Baptized as a Presbyterian he invited the Minister in the area to come and baptize the souls he had won for Christ. Much to his surprise he was ex-communicated from the church, ostensibly, because he had no seminary training and could not do the work of God. Others factors contributed to this fallout between Charles Kwabla Nutiornuti and his church.
When the European missionaries arrived in Africa their zeal and enthusiasm about wining these innumerable souls for Christ blinded them to the richness of the traditions and culture of the people. They, therefore, sought the eradication of these cultural norms and supplanted them with the new religion and its European culture. To the church, African traditional practice was pagan and should be uprooted and supplanted. With the inspiration that Wovenu had he adapted African traditions that were not opposed to the worship of the true God. Hence African drumming, singing, clothing, languages and other practices became integral parts of the liturgy of the church. This was sacrilegious to the missionaries. It is needles to recount the persecution he had to endure not only from the missionaries but also from the colonial administration.
As an example, to be baptized one had to assume the name of a saint. Since there were no named African saints, one, invariably, had to assume a European name or was not baptized. Africans treasure their names because in each name was a prayer to their God as to the course their life should take. Hence to be named George, Francis, Anthony, etc was problematic. In many ways Wovenu should be credited with fighting Western cultural imperialism and more so by keeping the flame of African cultural consciousness ablaze until recently when all African churches adopted African traditions as part of their liturgy.
We are limited by space and cannot provide a detailed discussion of the contribution that this man made towards African cultural consciousness and especially his work as the spiritual architect of the independence of Ghana and for that matter the whole of Africa. Several volumes are in the process of being published and these will deal, adequately, with subject.
As we commemorate the Founder' Day we are celebrating our cultural emancipation and saying kudos to the people and the institution- APOSTLES REVELATION SOCIETY (A.R.S) whose efforts made it possible that our heritage was not lost.