The Life and Ministry of Prophet Garrick Sokari Braide

Elijah the Second of Niger Delta, Nigeria (c. 1882-1918)

by Chinonyerem Chijioke Ekebuisi (Author)
©2015 Monographs XIV, 257 Pages


This study investigates the life and activities of Garrick Sokari Idikatima Braide, an African prophet, missionary and revivalist, in the evangelization of the Niger Delta area of Nigeria from 1890 to 1920. The book focuses on Braide’s revival movement and its impact on the mainstream churches and the grassroots spread of Christianity, which reached over a million people in an area where the progress of Christianity had been very slow. Overall, the book reinterprets reports and publications on Garrick Braide in order to highlight African initiatives in the Christian evangelization of Nigeria. It also traces the chronological developments in Braide’s ministry and the reasons behind his conflict with the Niger Delta Pastorate Board and his persecution by the colonial administration. The book further contributes to the debate on the reasons for the mass conversion of the Igbo to Christianity in the early decades of the twentieth century and the African origin of Pentecostalism in general.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Acronyms
  • Chapter One: Introduction
  • Background to this study
  • Garrick Braide and history: Some important questions
  • The wider context
  • Some special terms
  • Revival
  • Prophet
  • African Pentecostalism
  • Use of sources
  • Previous historical studies
  • Additional aspects to elucidate
  • How this book is arranged
  • Chapter Two: Indigenous prophetic figures in West Africa
  • Prophetism in West Africa
  • Prophet William Wade Harris
  • Kwame Sampson Opong
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Three: Kalabari in the nineteenth century
  • The history and people of Kalabari
  • The sociopolitical and economic culture of Kalabari
  • The Kalabari religious landscape
  • Christian missionary enterprise in the Kalabari area
  • Missionary Ideology and Enlightenment thinking
  • The education policy of the CMS in Eastern Nigeria
  • The Niger Delta Pastorate workers
  • Religious culture in the Niger Delta in the early twentieth century
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Four: History of Garrick Sokari Idikatima Braide
  • Birth
  • Married life, c. 1909–1918
  • Formative years
  • The influential role of Rev. Kemmer
  • Garrick Braide’s activities as a member of the Niger Delta Pastorate Church (NDP)
  • Garrick Braide’s healing and prophetic commissioning
  • Developments in Garrick Braide’s ministry
  • Expansion of Garrick Braide’s ministry
  • Origin of the appellation ‘Elijah II’
  • The delegation vision
  • Different mission sites
  • Bonny
  • Opobo
  • Abonnema
  • Garrick Braide’s bath water and the healing well
  • The extension of Braide’s revival into Igboland
  • Abuses and growth of prophetism
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Five: Garrick Braide and the Niger Delta Pastorate Church
  • Bishop James Johnson
  • Moves for official recognition
  • The Niger Delta Board of 1916
  • Reports from the Church and James Johnson to colonial officers
  • Reports from the Kalabari chiefs to the colonial officers
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Six: Garrick Braide’s trials and the founding of the Christ Army Church
  • Braide’s arrest and first trial
  • Reporting on Braide in British newspapers
  • Braide’s second trial
  • The government’s and Talbot’s interest in the Braide case
  • Other colonial officers’ views of Braide’s movement
  • Origin of anti-European feeling: ‘Germany’s victory’
  • The founding of the Christ Army Church
  • The death of James Johnson and the setting up of a Commission of Enquiry
  • Garrick Braide’s last days
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Seven: Garrick Braide’s religious legacies and innovations
  • Effective indigenization
  • A practical view of salvation
  • Mediating supernatural powers
  • Impartation of anointing and charisma
  • Use of prophylactics and therapeutic substance (the healing water and mud)
  • Exuberant and lively liturgy
  • Seed-sowing theology
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Eight: Impact of the Garrick Braide movement on the Igboland mainline churches
  • Mass conversion to Christianity in Igboland
  • The growth of the Primitive Methodist Church in Igboland
  • The Primitive Methodists’ encounter with the revival
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter Nine: Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Oral interviews
  • Archival sources
  • National Archives, Enugu
  • British Library Newspaper Archives, London (chronological)
  • Church Missionary Society Archives, Birmingham UK (chronological)
  • Harold Turner Collections, Birmingham UK
  • National Colonial Archives London
  • Methodist Missionary Society Archives, London
  • Wesleyan Methodist Church documents
  • Primitive Methodist Church documents (chronological)
  • Methodist Missionary Society documents (chronological)
  • Secondary sources
  • Index


This study investigates the life and activities of Garrick Sokari Braide, an African prophet, missionary and revivalist, in the evangelization of the Niger Delta area of Nigeria in the last decade of the nineteenth century and in the first two decades of the twentieth. In addition, the study focuses on Braide’s revival movement and its impact on the mainline churches and in spreading Christianity to the grassroots, which affected over a million people in an area where the progress of Christianity had been very slow due to the stronghold of traditional religion on the people. Overall, the study attempts a reinterpretation of reports and publications on Garrick Braide with the intention of highlighting African initiatives in the Christian evangelization of the Niger Delta of Nigeria.

The study adopts a historical approach in analysing the data collected. Both primary and secondary sources of data collection were employed. First, primary materials were obtained from the National Archives, Enugu, Nigeria; the CMS/Harold Turner Collections at the University of Birmingham, England; the Primitive Methodist Missionary Archives at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London; and the British Newspaper Library in London. The materials accessed included Church documents, reports of colonial officers, court case books, correspondence from missionaries, diaries, lecture materials, pamphlets, newspapers, and extracts from some rare books. Additional data were collected through interviews with scholars who had worked on the history of Garrick Braide. Besides this, the grandchildren of Garrick Braide, were expressly interviewed to ascertain their family history. A participant observation method was employed to study the activities at the healing well. Consequently this study attempts to string together a history of the ministry of Garrick Sokari Braide with information not previously available. The secondary sources included books, articles in journals and internet resources. ← ix | x →

The study shows the rise of Garrick Braide as a prophet and his understanding of his ministry. It attempts to demonstrate the chronological developments in Braide’s ministry from one Niger Delta village to another, and it reveals the people’s understanding of his prophetic activities. It further shows the influences of both the NDP Church and Moses Kemmer on Garrick Braide’s thoughts and ministry, and the reasons behind his conflict with the Niger Delta Pastorate and behind the persecution by the colonial administration. The study reveals that among colonial officers opinions were divided on the merits and demerits of Garrick Braide’s revival. Finally, the study uncovers how the enthusiastic acceptance of this revival as a divine initiative among the Niger Delta indigenes, its proscription by the NDP Church and subsequent persecution by the colonial administration led to the founding of the Christ Army Church.

The study concludes that although Garrick Braide was cut off early from the scene, his valuable contributions to African Christianity have continued through an enduring religious and theological heritage. It does not view the contributions of Braide’s movement to Christianity in terms of the agitation of the indigenous peoples of the Niger Delta against the foreign domination of the Sierra Leoneans and the Yoruba in the NDP ministry and the use of the Igbo language in the education of the Kalabari Christians. Rather it considers them as portraying the regenerative capacity of an African perception of the received faith. ← x | xi →


The completion of this study has been made possible through the untiring efforts and contributions of individuals and institutions whose devotion to the cause of learning has nursed, nurtured and sustained the research. Foremost among these are Professor Cephas N. Omenyo, Professor Matthews A. Ojo and Rev Dr. A. Atiemo – my PhD supervisors – whose encouragement and invaluable suggestions helped me develop my research skills and improve the presentation.

I am grateful for helpful comments from fellow research students and staff of the Department for the Study of Religions at the University of Ghana, Legon. I am especially grateful to Prof. J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Prof. Frieder Ludwig, Prof. G. O. M. Tasie, Dr. Richard Burgess and Prof. Zoe Strother, the Riggio Professor of African Art, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University. The primary sources and suggestions they sent helped me early on to achieve the right focus.

I am deeply thankful for the funding I received from the SALT scholarship committee of the Methodist Church, Britain and the support from the Methodist Church, Nigeria. To the staff of all the archives I used, all my friends, relatives and colleagues I owe immense thanks. To all persons around me who have suffered deprivation in the form of loving care, association and obligations as a result of my academic pursuit throughout these years, I hereby express my appreciation. Lastly, to my wife and two sons, for their patience, tender and unrelenting care, I remain eternally indebted. ← xi | xii →

← xii | xiii →


AICAfrican Initiated Churches1
BCMSBishop Crowther Memorial School
CMSChurch Missionary Society
DODistrict Officer
HTCHarold Turner Collections
MMSMethodist Missionary Society
NAENational Archives Enugu
NDPNiger Delta Pastorate Church
PMMSPrimitive Methodist Missionary Society
PMPrimitive Methodist
SDASeventh Day Adventist Church
SOASSchool of Oriental and African Studies, London
UFCSUnited Free Church of Scotland
WMMSWesleyan Methodist Missionary Society ← xiii | xiv →
← xiv | 1 →  


1.    AIC can also stand for African ‘Independent’, ‘Instituted’ and ‘Indigenous’ Churches.



Background to this study

In 1916, three prominent British newspapers featured the activities of an obscure man from Africa in their editorials, an act which generated much discussion across the media landscape. Discussions on this man appeared twice in the London Times1 and three times in the Liverpool-based African Mail.2 The London Times was the first to publish with the caption, ‘A False Prophet in Nigeria: Dangerous Pseudo-Christian Movement’. The paper wrote:

News has been received from Nigeria regarding the rise and spread of a pseudo-Christian movement among the Negro tribes in the southern part of the Protectorate. The movement is described as [being of] a dangerous character and inimical to the Government. At the head of the movement is a negro, a false teacher, who, having a knowledge of the Bible, has proclaimed himself Elijah II, and claims among other miraculous gifts, to be able to raise the dead, and retails his bath water as an infallible panacea for all ills … The movement, which is a kind of Negro mahdism, has affected trade, and threatens Government authority and Christian influence, while the fanatics have made a holocaust of a great number of juju articles, including valuable ivory.3 ← 1 | 2 →

Eight days after the London Times publication, the African Mail published sensational editorial news with the caption, ‘Mahdism in Nigeria’. The paper held forth on the issue, proclaiming that:

The news which has come through from Nigeria anent [concerning] the native fanatic who dubs himself Elijah II is not very reassuring. He has chosen his moment with considerable skill. When the attention of the Home Government is centred upon the life and death struggle in which we are engaged, it was quite feasible that an occurrence of this description is apt to be lost sight of. The native mind is such that little is necessary to sway the more ignorant section of the community into paths which are inimical to good government. At the same time we do not go so far as some of our popular dailies, who see in this false prophet another MAHDI under whose banner there are flocking millions of natives ready to attempt to overthrow the British ‘Raj’ … We must confess that there are dangerous elements in the new cult. A person of the type of this new Elijah might so work upon the emotional side of the native mind as to constitute a real danger … We said that it is strongly advisable to nip this evil flower in the bud … There may be political motives behind it, and before it is a real source of trouble it ought to be effectively crushed. However, as we said at the beginning, we have sufficient confidence and belief in the wisdom of his Excellency, the Governor to be of the opinion that with characteristic energy, he has the problem well in hand. We look forward to the next mail to bring details of the measures which have been adopted to eradicate the evil. It might be well, if it has not already been done, to remove the cause to [a] safe spot, where his fanaticism and religious fervour will have ample time and space to cool.4

In the same edition, another column captured the dinner organized by the African Society at the Hotel Cecil on 21 June. Mr J. Cathcart Wason, MP, presided over the occasion while Mr P. A. Talbot, of the Nigeria Political Service, gave an address, calling attention to some curious beliefs and customs of the Niger Delta tribes. The paper reported that:

In the lecture, he spoke of the extraordinary spread of the cult of the self-styled prophet Elijah II among the emotional Negroes of the Coast. The aims of this prophet were shown by his remark: ‘As for this war, I could stop it at once, but let the White men suffer a bit. The power is now passing from them to the Blacks.’ Information has been received regarding a so-called Christian movement in Nigeria which is likely to ← 2 | 3 → have serious consequences. The movement, which is a kind of Negro Mahdism, has greatly affected trade, undermined Government authority, and Christian influence.5

The same year, the Times of Nigeria in its issue of 15–22 August 1916, collating all the publications in the British newspapers and republishing them, made the following observations in its editorial:

Many of our readers may have heard of the religious revival, or revolution if you like, which has taken place in the Niger Delta region and which has brought on consternation and secession to the Delta Pastorate Church and given a serious blow to gin traffic in that region. We have collated in the present number of our journal various articles which have appeared in the English and one West African Journal on the subject. Our local readers will be able to judge for themselves whether there is any real ground for the hullabaloo which has been raised, see for themselves the lengths to which bigotry, self-interest and political intrigues can be carried, and how far the conclusions of the interested alarmists, the Church dignitaries, the mercantile interests, and the administrative authorities can be considered as justified. History has a way of repeating itself.6

Who was this obscure Kalabari man commanding so much press attention in faraway England early in 1916? What brought him to this level of prominence and visibility? What accounts for such exceptional interest in an unlettered man during the early days of colonialism – a man who did not travel beyond the region of the Niger Delta till his death?

This study examines the life and ministry of Garrick Braide; an early twentieth-century revivalist and probably the first known prophet-healer in West Africa, whose ministry was foundational to the evangelization of Nigeria by African Christian agents. It argues that Prophet Garrick Sokari Daketima Braide’s revival, in spite of various misconceptions and misinterpretations, as well as opposition and rejection by the Niger Delta Pastorate Church (the Anglican Church in the Niger Delta), galvanized Igboland into a crisis of faith and served as the catalyst that provided spiritual transformation and numerical growth to Igbo mainline churches. This development also enabled the Igbo mainline churches to contend with the ← 3 | 4 → initial challenges of the Aladura and Classical Pentecostal Churches.7 In the early decades of the twentieth century, a series of revivals with Pentecostal overtones swept through Igboland, coinciding with similar movements in Western Nigeria and the whole continent of Africa. Several themes recurred in these initiatives which are generally characteristic of revivals. Richard Burgess has traced the origins of Pentecostalism in Eastern Nigeria to the Garrick Braide revival. He concludes that revivals generally appealed to the margins of the Church but when rejected by the centre, they resulted in the formation of new denominations, and increased religious plurality.8

It is the argument of this book that Prophet Garrick Sokari Braide and the movement he led in the early decades of the twentieth century in the Niger Delta have not been given sufficient attention in the literature on African/Nigerian Christianity in general, and on African Pentecostalism in particular. Ogbu Kalu points out that ‘scholars have tended to start, and end, the study of African Pentecostalism with contemporary, urban emergent cultures of Africa and have lost sight of the vitality of the movement engaging the village public’.9 The failure of some earlier historians on the Garrick Braide movement to have paid adequate attention to the historical roots of the prophetic movement and its importance as an African initiative/factor in the evangelization of Nigeria has produced a misinterpretation of the facts and created confusion. Although it had no formal links with global Pentecostalism, Harold Turner describes the Garrick Braide revival as the first Pentecostal movement in Nigeria because of the ← 4 | 5 → prominence of healings and prophecies.10 According to J. D. Y. Peel, Braide was the earliest of the great West African prophets, preceding William Wade Harris by about a year.11 In the history of indigenous Christianity in West Africa, the volume of work on William Wade Harris has tended to eclipse the importance of Garrick Sokari Braide, while the focus on the revivals associated with the Aladura movements in Western Nigeria has driven Braide into obscurity. Yet as noted above, Garrick Braide was the first to capture the attention of the media, both at home in West Africa and in Britain. Another reason for Braide’s obscurity can be explained by the fact that scholars have tended to restrict his success to what happened in the Niger Delta and within the Christ Army Church – the church that was established partly by his followers. Thus, there has been a tendency by scholars to neglect the contributions of Braide to the growth of the mainline churches in Eastern Nigeria in the first two decades of the twentieth century and beyond. Writing in 1918, G. T. Basden, a CMS missionary in Igboland, referred to the activities of Garrick Braide and how his movement totally changed the history of Christian missions in Igboland:


XIV, 257
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (December)
revival movement Christianity persecution evangelization
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2015. XIV, 257 pp.

Biographical notes

Chinonyerem Chijioke Ekebuisi (Author)

Chinonyerem Chijioke Ekebuisi, a Methodist Minister, is currently the Director of the Board for Theological Education of Methodist Church Nigeria. He received a PhD from the Department for the Study of Religions, University of Ghana, for his thesis titled ‘African Initiative and Christian Missions: The Life and Ministry of Prophet Garrick Sokari Braide (Elijah II) of Niger Delta, Nigeria (c. 1882-1918)’. Previously, he lectured for six years at the Methodist Theological Institute in Nigeria, teaching Christianity in Africa, Pentecostalism (histories and theology) and Mission Studies.


Title: The Life and Ministry of Prophet Garrick Sokari Braide
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