Adorkaville-An International Heritage Trail

Adorkaville Founders

Princess Laura Adorkor Koffey-Movement founder

Princess Laura Adorka Kofey   Laura Adorkor Kofey (also known as Mother Kofey) was a princess from Ghana that believed that her mission from God was to travel to America to deliver a message of invitation, union and self-help to people of African ancestry. She was authorized by various kings and leaders in her country to extend the invitation to return to Africa and to inquire about the welfare of African Americans. Slavery had been abolished for many years and many citizens in Africa did not feel that there was a good number of its descendents returning or attempting to form a relationship with their homeland (Nyombolo).

  In less than18 months in the U.S., Mother Kofey had become a prominent name throughout the US, particularly the South. Attracting thousands to her speaking engagements, she worked to revive the southern branches of Marcus Garvey's United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). UNIA members as well as ministerial alliances became concerned over her striking popularity over its members that many saw her as a threat to the organization (Bair, 1997). As a result, accusations were advertised that she was not a native African but merely an imposter from within the U.S. Mother Kofey made attempts to reconcile the accusations but was later forced to denounce her affiliation with these groups and formed her own organization. She suffered many prejudices because of her thriving organization from false accusations causing arrests, to her final assassination while delivering her message to a large crowd in Liberty Hall on March 8, 1928 in Miami, Florida (City of Jacksonville, 2003).

  Although she died in March, she was not buried until August 17, 1928. She received thousands of mourners. So much so that the funeral parlor charged a fee of 25 cents to view her body (Nyombolo). Seven thousand followed her funeral procession from Miami to West Palm Beach (66 miles). According to the local newspaper, approximately 10,000 people attended the funeral of the "Nubian Princess" (Florida Times Union, 1928). She was finally laid to rest in a specially built mausoleum in Jacksonville, Florida.

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Eli B'usabe Nyombolo

Eli Nyombolo   After Laura Kofey's death, her followers searched to find someone to continue her movement. They found Pondoland South African, Eli B'usabe Nyombolo who was operating as a key officer of the Native African Union in New York. Eli had originally come to the U.S. to obtain his postgraduate education from Wilberforce University in Ohio. His belief in Kofey's movement caused him to move to Jacksonville where he created a community in her honor, Adorkaville. This 11+-acre property was purchased in 1944 to house members and to work on the preparation of returning African Americans as well as to develop relationships with businesspeople in Africa and America. There were plans to build a school, church, office building, member homes as well as a building that could be used as an "African Home" for visiting African natives (Newman, 1996).

  Because of the need for housing during that time, priority went to the erection of 14 member built homes along with a temporary church building, office and community center. Eli followed Mother Kofey's teaching of racial pride and the mission of business enterprise between Africa and America. Eli was also an officier of the African-American Import & Export company that distributed raw products from many areas of Africa. Imports included items such as gingers, palm oil and precious stones. Exports included hardware, haberdashery, farm implements and machinery (Nyombolo).

  Natives from various countries taught members of the organization their native customs language and culture. However, the most longstanding was Eli's teachings. Their fluency of the Bantu language (known to some as Xhosa/Pondo/Zulu) enabled the community to become bi-lingual as they conversed, sang songs and held services utilizing the language. Children born into the community were given names of this language. Teachings of African history included the work of Dr. David Livingstone of Scotland and his guides (Susi, Chuma, Amoda, Abram, Mabrouki, Jacob Wainwright and Majwara) as well as Ghandi's efforts. In fact, construction was started on a building dedicated to Susi (O'Susi temple). Even though the community fostered racial pride, it also respected all races during a time when many black organizations promoted racial hate. The community was situated in what was known during that time, as an area that was predominately inhabited by whites yet the community has no known history of racial unrest.

  Eli never made it back to Africa himself. However, there was at least one known attempt of six individuals that were sent as pioneers to Africa in preparation of return and building better business relations among members. Kings and leaders of Nigeria and Ghana were named as hosts to the pioneers. There is record of tracts of land that was donated to the organization to use for cultivation and preparation of a community in Africa (Nyombolo).

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Chalmers Nyombolo

Chalmers Nyombolo   Chalmers Nyombolo (born in 1864) was the father of Eli. He often credited his father's simplified grammar key as the tool that allowed him to be able to publish a Bantu primer and vocabulary book to aid in teaching the language to the community. He was also in possession of many documents and artifacts of his father, which he used as his reference. Chalmers was noted as a very prominent citizen of South Africa during that time. He was very active in the country's movements and is credited as one of the founders of the African National Congress in Cape Town as well as a South African school (Campbell, 1995). Legend has it that Eli was also an ANC member and much of his work in the organization was used to aid in Africa's freedom efforts.

  Eli died in 1970. After that time, the community underwent internal disarray causing many members to forego the community. However, the original acreage (and some of the homes) is still intact under private ownership.

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