Opinions Wed, 30 Sep 2009

Ghanaians Were the Smarter for Nkrumah’s Overthrow

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Time, it has been said, has a way of healing even the most painful and traumatic wounds. In Ghanaian political circles, however, time seems to be more of a stupefying anodyne to the most fundamental truth of the well-examined life, as it were. And so 37 years after the demise of our country’s most notorious tyrant, and 43 years after his landmark overthrow, quite a remarkable percentage of Ghanaian citizens continue to wallow in an abject state of denial, even to the damnable extent of stolidly claiming that the coup d’étàt that liberated the erstwhile Gold Coast from the insidious clutches of home-brewed neocolonialism was an egregious mistake as well as counterproductive.

In a recent interview that he granted Joy-Fm radio station, in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, former Health minister Courage Quashigah insisted against all known facts regarding the wrecking of the Ghanaian economy by Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party (CPP) regime that, somehow, the 1966 coup was counterproductive. The reformed (or is it “born-again”?) former Rawlings lieutenant also claimed, rather curiously, that the auspiciously radical removal of Mr. Nkrumah’s one-party dictatorship actually regressed Ghana’s economic development.

Major Quashigah (rtd.) ought to know what he is talking about, for the former New Patriotic Party (NPP) Health minister is, himself, a professionally certified coup-plotter. And the man appears to remarkably appreciate some of the errors of his ways, thus the grim observation of his inveterate abhorrence of military interventions, “especially those that topple civilian regimes” (See “Major Quashigah: 1966 Coup Was Counter-Productive” Myjoyonline.com News 9/20/09).

Needless to say, Major Quashigah prefers to make exceptions of coups that oust civilian regimes, directly because the one in which he was a key operative, perhaps even an architect, toppled the Gen. F. W. K. Akuffo-led Supreme Military Council – 2 (or SMC II) in June 1979. And regarding the latter, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), of which then-Capt. Quashigah was a key actor, summarily executed a remarkable number of some of the senior-most members of the Ghana Armed Forces, including three former heads of state, one of whom, Gen. A. A. Afrifa, had been in effective retirement for at least a decade.


Evidently, what Major Quashigah would conveniently have his countrymen and women deliberately and readily forget is the verifiable fact that on the eve of its bloody overthrow, SMC II had already put in place a process of handing over the reins of governance to a popularly elected civilian administration. The AFRC would actually delay the latter process by at least three months! Still, what is most remarkable about the Rawlings-led AFRC is the fact that its agenda appears to have clearly entailed one of deftly orchestrated ethnic cleansing masquerading as a “people’s revolution.” Barely two years after handing over power to the legitimately elected Limann-led People’s National Party (PNP), Mr. Rawlings and his rag-tag posse of cutthroat goons would be back at the helm, dead-set on prosecuting what the leader of the so-called revolution then termed as the “unfinished business of housecleaning.”

The latter, of course, entailed the state-sponsored abduction and brutal assassination of three Akan high court judges who had, allegedly, dared to reverse wanton acts of revolutionary injustice committed by the AFRC, largely in the form of summary expropriation of legitimately acquired property and other forms of wealth from diligent and law-abiding Ghanaian citizens.

But that Major Quashigah would describe the coup that released the giant likes of Messrs. Ako-Adjei, Adamafio, Crabbe and R. R. Amponsah from arbitrary detention and death sentences as “counterproductive,” is rather repugnant, to speak much less about the outright flagrant. Still, it is all to be expected that Major Quashigah, a self-described member of Nkrumah’s Youth Brigade, would register such a factually incongruent observation. For the truth of the matter is that both the Youth Brigade and the Workers’ Brigade have no enviable record of engagement in productive socioeconomic and/or cultural ventures; rather, these pseudo-institutions were widely known to be otiose sinecures with absolutely no organic relevance for either traditional or modern Ghanaian society.

It is also rather bizarre for Major Quashigah to call on Ghanaians to unreservedly unite around the non-birth centenary birthday celebration of, perhaps, the most ideologically polarizing figure in postcolonial Ghanaian politics. For those of us who have the cranial capacity of morally upright and justice-loving humans, however, the grim reminders of Dr. Danquah’s state-decreed and rigidly enforced and wickedly muted 6-hour funeral ceremony, as well as Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey’s treatment like a common criminal, are all-too-fresh and painful for us to facilely pretend as if the untold atrocities of Nkrumah’s CPP government were merely mundane acts of goodwill and ineffable beneficence, or even familial Sunday picnics in the park. And have any of the garishly fanatical likes of Major Quashigah ever wondered why almost no dignitaries of global repute participated in Ghana’s most recent, Nkrumaist, political charade?

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Danquah Institute (DI), the Accra-based pro-democracy think-tank, and author of 20 books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@aol.com. ###

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame