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General News of Sunday, 20 May 2007

Source: Sam Doku (paa_fio@yahoo.com)

Book Review: "True Story" About Her Capture In Prampram

Bishop Elvina Miller: “True Story” About Her Capture In Prampram.

Bishop Elvina Miller who currently lives in Prampram advertises her book “Captured In Africa: A True Incredible Story” on the Internet. She describes her book as “A True and Incredible Story”. A more objective reader is inclined to the view that if the views expressed in the book are the underpinning philosophy of the churches she has founded, then the fight to de-colonize the African has not yet been completed. I comment on Bishop Elvina Miller’s “True Story” About Her Capture In Prampram.

The book “Captured In Africa: A True Incredible Story” was published in 1991 following Bishop Elvina E. Miller’s four days visit to Prampram 1954. In the book Elvina claims she visited places such as Teshie, Suhum, Kibi, Oda, Swedru and Prampram, where she claims she caused a woman’s eight year old swelling of the thyroid gland (goitre) to vanish, a deaf and dumb young man to hear and speak (and interestingly spoke perfect English), countless deaf people to hear, and an old man bedridden for two years to walk. Those are the usual claims of false prophets that, like magnet, attract the unsuspecting helpless and vulnerable Africans. It is not those useless claims to spiritual prowess that I comment on. Instead I point out the factual inaccuracies as they relate to Prampram as the focus of the book is on her alleged miraculous escape from “Fetishes” in Prampram.   The inappropriate language used by a Bishop to describe the people of Prampram is in my view an indication of Bishop Miller’s low opinion of those she claims to help.  She describes how, just as she was about to return to the US in 1954, she was invited by a local pastor to visit Prampram.  She said “when he saw that I wasn’t afraid to touch the lepers, maybe he thought I wouldn’t be afraid to touch something worse than leprosy. He wanted me to go to a place of great spiritual darkness: the stronghold of Fetish religion in Prampram”. (p.79). Describing a whole race of people in a book first written in 1991 and re-printed in 1998 as “something worse than leprosy” is extremely offensive and insulting to the people of Prampram and the Black race as a whole.     1. Bishop Miller describes Prampram as a place where “there are no Christians or churches there at all” in 1954. (p.79).   Response: In 1954 when the Bishop visited Prampram, there were two large churches in the town, Ebenezer Methodist Church, Upper Town, which was established in September 1846 by a European Missionary called Birch Freeman, and St. Joseph’s Anglican Church, Lower Town, which was also established much later in 1942. It would have been impossible to visit the town in 1954 and not have noticed these two prominent buildings both less than ten feet from the only main road in the town. In 1954 there were also smaller churches, which used to be called locally as “Aposolik” (Apostolic Churches) in those days.    2. Bishop Miller said, “Many years ago, a Methodist minister came to Prampram to build a church.  Just as he was about to finish the church, he disappeared.  No one ever heard from him again.  The entire village is fetish”. (p.79).   Response: There is no recorded incident of a missionary going missing in Prampram.  European priests from the Diocese of Accra were and remain frequent visitors to the two churches especially during Easter and Harvest time.  The Bishop had from 1954 to 1991 when she published the book only to check with the Methodist Mission in Ghana if any of their European Missionaries/ priests, pre-dating 1846 had ever gone missing in Prampram but she failed to do so, yet the book is describe as” True and Incredible Story”.    3. Bishop Miller said, “When we got there I saw something I had never witnessed before: the streets and houses were splattered with blood.  The fetish people had slaughtered every goat, chicken and bird available and splattered the blood everywhere”. The four days they were there “the interpreter wore herself out looking for chicken or some kind of bird to cook for diner, but she could not find any because they have all been bought for the sacrifices”. (p.84).   Response: It is not true about this alleged mass slaughter. Never in the history of Prampram had every street and house splattered with animal blood.  The main shrine in the town is always painted with whitewash.  During the Homowo and Kle doo (Kle dance) period the shrine is whitewashed and sprinkled with a specially ground tree root, which turns dark red in colour, not animal blood.  No any other buildings or streets are sprinkled with this special tree root juice.  It is therefore not true that every house and every street was sprinkled with animal blood.   4. Bishop Miller said, “I live in a land where churches are on every corner and people know who Jesus is, but in this little village no one knows the name of Jesus”. (p.84).   Response:  In 1954 both Anglican and Methodist churches in the town had their own schools.  It is a fact that in every missionary school in Africa there was morning Christian prayers before classes, and in 1954 going to church on Sundays followed by Sunday school after church service was part of the school curriculum.  It is therefore not true that in Prampram no one knows the name of Jesus.  Records show that Christianity had lived in the town as far back as 1856.   5. Bishop Miller said, “Missionaries later told me that it is impossible to come so close and come away alive”. “ The people look vicious to me”. (p.84)   Response:  This is not supported by the evidence of European trade with the Prampram/Ladoku area between 1550 and 1630.  Secondly, Prampram was an important British trading post in the 18th century and the British built Fort Vernon in 1740 to promote their trade in Prampram and beyond.   The fort was later destroyed by the Danes and rebuilt by the British in 1806 only to be abandoned in 1820.  In 1831 the British reoccupied the fort signifying the importance of Prampram as a seaport and a viable trading post during that time. The people of Prampram have had centuries of contacts with Europeans and in more recent years Colonial District Commissioners and education officers were frequent visitors to the town. In the 50’s, 60’ and 70’s Prampram Beach was a haven for Europeans on Saturdays and Sundays. Therefore the statement that it is impossible to “come so close and come away alive” is not true. As for the people looking vicious, this would indicate the Bishop’s racist stereotypical view of the African.       6. Bishop Miller said, “Back in bush country people have no concept of civilised behaviour. (P.91). She described how she prayed and said, “if God can make the very rocks cry out, surely he can cause people enslaved by demonic power to follow a little, white missionary”. She went on to say, “What I am going to do with them? We have to pull something spectacular, God – not to reach Christians but reach the heathen and capture their attention”. (p.92). She described during one of her sermons how she cured a Fetish priestess.  This woman was important because “she carried a ceremonial dish, a sort of birds nest on the back of her head.  She had to balance it there because she was doubled over”.  That the “fetish power had crippled her and doubled her over making her its slave”. She described how she healed her and in her words, “she got up and her back was straight”. She went on to say, “If I hadn’t healed her, the people would have killed me on the spot. These were Fetishes and they didn’t care about law and order or civilised behaviour”. (p.97).   Response: The above passages again highlight the Bishop’s racist views of the African.  The statement that the people didn’t care about law and order or civilised behaviour is not supported by the evidence.  The British formed army like units such as the Gold Coast Corps and the Royal Corps to protect their forts and trade routes. Prampram Police station was one such first station, which was built in 1814 to protect Fort Vernon and the trade route between Pramparm, Accra, Dodowa and the hinterland. This police station remains operational today. The town also had a Colonial administrative block, which housed the local post office, telephone exchange and the local magistrates court. This building still stands today.  The Paramount Chief had his own police force called Mantse Police, which complemented the local colonial government police force in the town.   The Mantse had his own court which sat regularly to hear cases and pass judgements, and impose fines where necessary. This shows an established local government administration system, and law and order in Prampram during the colonial era and certainly in 1954 when the Bishop visited Prampram.   7. Bishop Miller said, “Many of the priests and other important people in the Fetish were healed and delivered. Then they threw away their Fetish gods.  We saw abandoned Fetish objects all over the town. Satan’s stronghold was crumbling.”  “That night they brought their objects, the things they had trusted to give them protection.  Some had blankets, some had books.  Their gods were different things”. (p.100).   Response: The Bishop failed to provide corroborative evidence of such an important event.  The seven quarters of Prampram still have their various ancestral shrines today.  None of these have been thrown away as the Bishop claims.      8. Bishop Miller described the traditional priests she saw in Prampram as “big Fetish priests with paint all over their bodies – red, blue, and green.  Many of them seem to be possessed by evil spirits”. (p.104)   Response:  the traditional priests in Prampram, as in the whole of the Ga and Dangme areas and other parts of Ghana do not paint their bodied in multi-colours.  The priests only put “ayilor” (white talcum powder) on their faces.  Never in the history of Prampram had traditional priests painted their bodies in red, blue and green paint.   9. The Bishop described how she was captured by enraged Fetishes, and 2000 people were ordered by the priests to stone her, presumably to death. (p.111)   Response: No one in Prampram can remember any such incident in 1954. Surely the Bishop could have gone to the Police station in Prampram to report this incident to the police.  Like the two churches in the town, you could not have possibly visited Prampram in 1954 and not noticed this historic colonial police building painted in the characteristic Blue and White colours. She said she spent four days in the town and yet failed to see the police station, which she could have reported this incident to.      10. Bishop Miller went on to say she met with the king and “The king told me later that he could have come and rescued me if it had been anyone but the Fetishes.  But he said when he heard that the Fetishes had captured me “I had to pray that your God would free you.  That’s all I could do because I don’t have any power over them.  They are the strongest force in all of Africa”. (p.120).   Response: She couldn’t possibly have met the Paramount Chief of Prampram in 1954.  In the book she named him as Nana Ofori Atta II.  The Paramount Chief of Prampram at the time was Nene Anorkwei II not Nana Ofori Atta II. This is an elementary mistake that a well researched book should never have committed.   11. Bishop Miller described her subsequent visit to Ghana in January 1976.  She said she met with the man (Local Pastor) who first invited her to visit Prampram in 1954.  As soon as he saw her he said “Sister Miller, you would never recognise Prampram.  Many of the Fetishes have become Christians, and there are two churches in the village now.” (p.131).    Response:  Miraculously, these very churches that I have described above suddenly appeared in 1976.  The fact is that these churches had been there all along and she knew of their existence but for whatever reason she choose to ignore it until 1976.  This, in my view, is to make it look like she was the first to introduce Christianity to Prampram.    12. In July 1991 Bishop Miller described how she visited Prampram, this time in the company of her grandson, Arthur Speck. In Mr Speck’s testimony in the book, he said “Walking along the same street Grandma walked, I began to envision what it must have been like for a young lady to confront such evil force”.  He went on to say “saw the house where Nana Ofori Atta II waited for Grandma’s deliverance from the hands of evil and the spot of her captured and deliverance”.   Response:  In my view, Mr Speck came to Africa with the same warped and racist view about the African and in 1991 used derogatory and emotive words like Evil Force to describe the African, the very words used by his grandmother in her book.   Conclusion:   I hope I have provided readers with sufficient factual information about Prampram for them to make up their own judgements about the motive behind the publication of the book “Captured In Africa: A True and Incredible Story”.  My personal view on the book is that it is at best, a fabricated story to appeal to unsuspecting particular audience, and at worst, a fraud.      Today, Bishop Elvina Miller, I understand, lives in Prampram and continues to advertise the book on the website of the church that she founded, Oasis of Love Church, USA, and continues to promote the sales of the book she describe as “A True and Incredible Story”.

(See

www.oasisoflove.net/international.php or

http://www.oasisinhuntingdon.com/Pastors.dsp