ABOUT OKOMFOHENE NANA AKUA OPAREBEA
Nana Oparebea was enstooled as the fourth Okomfohene (Chief Priest) of the Shrine in 1957. Nana Oparebea is said to have trained over 5,000 priests/priestesses. Nearly all of the African-American priesthood can trace their lineage to her or to someone who was initiated by her. Another of her important accomplishments was the formation of a close association with Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah and the Convention People’s Party. President Nkrumah appointed her as the first president of the Ghana Psychic and Traditional Healing Association. This was part of CPP’s political agenda to organize traditional healing as a legitimate indigenous institution to help Ghanaians escape total reliance upon Western medicine.
On the other side of the ocean, developments were taking place within the Pan-African nationalists community that would eventually cross paths with Nana Oparebea and have far reaching ramifications.
As early as 1943, Nana Yao Dinizulu, in association with others in search of their African identity, organized activities in Harlem, New York intended to teach African culture and religion. He established Bosum-Dzemawodzi to re-introduce Akom as an African traditional form of worship.
In 1965, he took his first trip to Africa and was introduced to Nana Oparebea. It was Nana Oparebea’s mother who went into trance and revealed the names of Nana Dinizulu’s ancestors from the Akwapim area. It was prophesied that he had returned to bring African shrines back to America. After further divination, Nana Dinizulu was allowed to return to America with the shrines of three deities from the Akonnedi Shrine.
Nana Dinizulu graduated three people in 1968 who became the first generation of Akom priests in contemporary America. He initiated additional people into the Akom system in 1971. In order to bring further structure to their training Nana Dinizulu organized the first trip of Nana Oparebea to America. According to Nana Dinizulu,
"This was the first time a chief-priest of her magnitude visited this country on a voluntary basis – many great priests and noblemen were forced to come here during slavery. Nana Oparebea came to see the home of her family [in America] and to assist us in spreading the religion."
Later that year Nana Dinizulu chartered a Pan-Am flight that carried over 200 priests, trainees and other interested people to Ghana. Those who were in training spent their time at the Akonnedi Shrine to perfect their priesthood training. These individuals comprised the core of new priests who laid the groundwork for Akom in America. In subsequent years Akom “houses” were established in Washington, D.C. Philadelphia, Toronto, Canada and the Caribbean.
It is important to also point out that Nana Dinizulu re-connected with the shrine of his ancestors. In 1972 he returned to Ghana and was psychically led to the shrine of Nana Kumi which had been buried underground for many years near the village of Nsaba.
In 1971, Nana Oparebea accepted Nana Dinizulu’s invitation to travel to America.
It was the first time that an Akan priest of such stature had traveled to this country voluntarily. During the visit Nana Oparebea lived with the family of Nana Dinizulu and helped him with the work of the shrines of Nana Asuo Gyebi and Nana Esi that he brought to American in 1965. In addition, she established the Tigare shrines in New York under the care of Nana Dinizulu and taught him how to train Akomfo to serve the deities according to the Larteh system.