Begotten from a womb of impunity: A lion called June 4th insurgency
The title of this article is an adaptation of Professor Wole Soyinka’s description of Boko Haram in Nigeria; “Hatched from the egg of impunity: A Fowl called Boko Horam.” Anyhow, the execution of awful individuals with ignoble and unspeakable deeds must be reasons for panegyrical euphoria within a given society.
Nevertheless, the June 4, 1979, military mutiny which culminated in the execution of one of Ghana’s finest leaders, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong by firing squad in that same year deserves general condemnation and consternation. Followers of June 4th rebellion believe it was a sort of a death knell for political stability and, a panacea for military adventurism engulfing the then armed forces. Acheampong was a real patriot and ultraconservative Nkrumahist! Another notable Nkrumahist was Dr Hilla Limann.
Is it not hysterical and risible for the group who succeeded in eliminating all the great followers of Nkrumah to boast of his ideology? I will have an empathy for compradors like K. A Busia, A. A. Afrifa, K. A Gbedemah and E. K Kotoka vaunting on Nkrumahism than ambassadors of Rawlings led Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). The author of this article wants to explore whether June 4th uprising is worth celebrating in modern Ghana.
After the overthrow of Nkrumah in 1966, Ghana almost invariably was on the brink of military takeover rampage. In May 1979, almost a month prior to an election, there was an abortive coup. A young Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings and some bellicose lower rank soldiers tried to capture military headquarters in Accra. Rawlings on the icy waters of his own narcissistic and egotistical calculations appeared to be disenchanted with the inability of Supreme Military Council II to prosecute senior military officers for corruption. Rawlings’ mistaken convictions over perceived embezzlement of funds by some senior officers brought division to the military fraternity. Schism in the armed forces over whether to provide a conduit to execution for perceived corrupt senior soldiers got to pivotal sticking-point as the pontifical Rawlings and his peers planned a coup when it became obvious that dialogue would not work. After the aforesaid failed coup, Rawlings was placed on trial and quickly became a hero to the military hoi-polloi. Rawlings was imprisoned. However, on June 4, 1979, some of his colleagues released him from prison. He who is dissatisfied looks for an opportune time for vengeance!
Thus, upon his release, Rawlings called for a revolutionary council to replace its predecessor junta. In a fight that ensued between Rawlings’ group and the senior officers, army Commander Major General Odartey Wellington was killed and, the resistance to embryonic AFRC fizzled into thin air! In a radio broadcast, Rawlings entreated Ghanaians to either be part of the problem or the solution.
The mutiny plotters quickly formed the AFRC. Rawlings was elected chairman and Major Boakye-Gyan became the spokesman. AFRC which was formed on the principles of probity and accountability began with impunity and irresponsibility. Ghana was plunged into chaos by some indiscipline soldiers as some resorted to the ransacking of stores and redistribution of wealth. It was excessively nonsensical to redistribute individual’s hard-won money to people who never worked for it. Contrary to the natural right for everyman to succeed in life, I had a dream that some people are destined to be poor and, I thank God, I am not in charge of my dream. Akan businessmen goods were confiscated and sold to the public at controlled prices. AFRC leaders created the so-called accounts number 48 to deposit monies confiscated from people perceived to have acquired them outside the law. Market women who were perceived to be guilty of hoarding and price grouping were stripped naked, beaten, and in some instances killed. In reaction to what was perceived to be “Kalabule” [fraudulent dealings], some irresponsible soldiers blew up Makola Market, arrested and humiliated senior military officers. Kwame Nkrumah’s Cocoa Marketing Board which was perceived to be sponsoring Acheampong’s UNIGOV was scrapped. As the axiom goes “he who comes into equity must come with clean hands.” The early conducts of AFRC bereft the members of locus standi to preach about probity and accountability. My bane is how did the standard bearers of AFRC determine the corruption they accused others of? What happened to the account number 48?
The unalienable rights endowed to mankind by God and its concomitant puritan egalitarian ideals that all men are created equal are enshrined in many great constitutions like the USA, UK and Australia. Natural justice claims no one should be a judge in his own case. In a spiteful disregard to the foregoing natural justice, members of the ARFC became their own judges in their own cases and as a corollary established a Kangaroo court [15 member military tribunal] to execute Ghana’s former heads of state in a firing squad. Acheampong who heretofore was warned via a letter by General Afrifra was executed. The execution of Ghana’s former leaders spread on the globe. June 17, 1979 edition of Washington Post reportedly stated that Acheampong smiled and waved a white handkerchief to the reporters as he was driven off to his death. He and Edward Kwaku Utuka [former commander of Ghana’s boarder Guards] both had red hoods drawn over their heads before being shot on June 16, 1979 at the military range. Afrifa was arrested from his farms at Asante Mampong and was shot dead on June 26, 1979.
Following the overthrow of Busia led Progress Party [PP] government, Acheampong who staged a coup in January 1972 wanted to bring Nkrumah back from exile. His hope never appeared to be accomplished with Nkrumah’s demise in April 1972. Acheampong formed a Junta known as National Redemption Council [NRC]. The ideological underpinning of NRC was self-reliance as reflected in economic interventions such as operation feed yourself, operation 'feed your industry' and 'operation produce rice'.
Acheampong built low-cost estates for low-income people. He established irrigation facilities for Ghanaian farmers. A prime example was the Tono irrigation project in the upper region. He built some secondary schools in the country. He started the construction of Kpong Hydro Plant in 1976, a project which was commissioned in August 1982 by a man who killed him. He repudiated many baseless national debt and succeeded in resuscitating the ailing economy from Busia’s PP and Ankrah, Kotoka and Afrifa led National liberation council (NLC) governments. He scrapped the development tax by Busia’s government which brought untold hardship to the citizenry.
Acheampong was development oriented and Patriotic leader who did diddly treasonable to warrant execution! Yet, the indiscipline which glutted hitherto calm, respect for authority, religious, hardworking and wanton disdain for heinous crime Ghanaian society claimed his life on irresponsible grounds. Notwithstanding his attempt to clinch to power through UNIGOV, he remained one of the best leaders in the annals of Ghana’s political history. Must we sacrifice the life of I. K Acheampong on the unholy altars of AFRC leaders’ ethnocentric and egoistic convenience? Acheampong innocent ghost must be lurking around Ghana!
Although not bereft of conceptual drawbacks, politics has been defined as authoritative allocation by the political system of values for society [David Easton]. By values, the political scientist meant any sought-after value in life. Discipline is seen to be desirable within Ghanaian culture. After president Kufuor formed National Reconciliation Commission, observance of June 4th uprising anniversary was expected to be sunk into oblivion to deter would-be indiscipline-mongering soldiers from future similar happenings. As a nation, we were once victims of indiscipline, we became victors of it, must be vanguards but not villains who tolerate rebellion and lawlessness.
Instead of President Akufo-Addo’s obstinate but subliminal stance to “de-Nkrumahize” [make Nkrumah irrelevant] in Ghana as portrayed in his deliberate relegation of Osagyefo’s role in Ghana’s political freedom during his maiden independence speech in early 2017, he must make June 4th anniversary a prohibition. Attempt and pledge to create unnecessary Ahafo region out of Brong Ahafo region is another ample testimony revealing Akufu-Addo’s unrepentant desire to reverse Nkrumah’s legacy.
No amount of frustration could raise Danquah above Nkrumah! Nkrumahists who observe June 4th anniversary and 31st December coup have lost focus! Promote discipline, say no to June 4th anniversary. Indeed, conceived from a violent womb, a lion called June 4th uprising anniversary must not be entertained in Ghana anymore! God Bless Our Homeland Ghana!