The Untold Story Of Nkrumah's Overthrow

Mon, 3 Oct 2011 Source: Asare, Noah Dugubrame

In the early hours of 24th February, 1966 Ghana woke up to the news of the abolishing of the CPP as a political party in Government and the dismissal of Nkrumah as the President of Ghana. On that day Nkrumah was in Vietnam to offer his speech on the solution to the Vietnam war at the invitation of President Ho Chi Mihn. Gen. Ankrah was announced to be the man in charge of a coup de etat named "Operation Cold Chop". Ghana went wild in Jubilation and teased Nkrumah with different songs and placards. The ten years ago hero had become an object of mockery and ridicule. He had been describes as a tyrant and a poor leader who had mismanaged the economy and had trampled upon the rights and freedom of the people he fought to liberate from the British.

It is surprising that many people, some of who get the upportunity to post their ideas into the public domain either out of ignorance or intentional distortions fail to let the children of today know who was exactly responsible for the overthrow of Nkrumah. Whilst some, including leading members of The NDC have consistently pointed fingers on the NPP's predecessors as the ones who toppled the first government of the first Ghanaian republic, others in the same party, like Prof. Kofi Awoonor has said in a book written by him that the Ashantis were the people who caused Nkrumah's fall.

The truth is that none of the two is true. Yes the predecessors of NPP were not in agreement with Nkrumah because he had no plans to make Ghana a democratic state. Also they thought he mismanaged the economy. The overthrow of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah according to my grandfather Ex Sgt Ofori Braffour was initiated by Gen Kotoka. Kotoka was a soldier who was highly respected and honored for exceptional bravery in the Ghana Armed forces. On a peace keeping service in Congo, according to Grand Pa he(Kotoka) was there in Congo approached by some CIA agents to plan the overthrow of Nkrumah. Grandpa states that the loyal General rejected the offer and returned to Ghana after he had gone deep into the plan to have been used to overthrow Ghana's first president.

On his return to Ghana he was with the northern command(Second Infantry Brigade) and was made in charge of a troop movement from the north to the south. Troop movement is a kind of movement of the army from one position to another as if they are going to war in a kind of training. In this training the soldiers normally use blank ammunitions to avoid casualties. General Kotoka haven conceived the idea to overthrow Nkrumah and having had the support of General Ankrah and Afrifa who were his seniors in rank rather used live ammunitions. The four of them also managed to have the police behind them. My grandpa told me that the conditions in the army at that time were very difficult with even their uniform torn on them. The story with the police according to grandpa was not any different so the idea of the coup was readily accepted by both the rank and file of the army and police with the exception of the guards regiment(a section of the army very loyal to Nkrumah) and the Kwame Nkrumah personal guards.

On the day of the troop movement, instead of blank ammunitions, as I told you, General Kotoka and his men after who had travelled thoughout the day to somewhere near Nsawam set off at dawn with live ammunitions. It was here that the men on the ground were informed of the grand master plan of overthrowing Nkrumah. At the time of that announcement nobody could retreat. So they set off at night from that position towards Accra. The police at that juncture had been positioned to aide the attack. They took over the broadcastle, and the castle with sheer ease. At the Flagstaff House however, grandpa said the whole incidence turned bloody as the Nkrumah's loyal guards put up a fierce resistance but they were over powered at the end by Gen Kotoka and His men, because in particular was in charge of the contingent that went to the Flag Staff House, but many lives were Lost on both sides.

So these three men Gen Kotoka, Gen Afrifa and Gen Ankrah together with the Inspector General of Police at the time John Kofi W Harlley snatched Power from the hands of Nkrumah. John Kofi Harley according to Grandpa at that time was being constantly monitored by Nkrumah's internal security and he had began feeling unsafe because his predecessor E R T Madjiitey was removed under bizzare circumstance and later sent to prison under the Preventive Detention Act established by Nkrumah's CPP. So Nkrumah's fall was a relief to him too as he feared ending up like E R T Madjiitey.

At the end of the coup a new government was formed, called National Liberation Council. Upon assuming office General Ankrah who was a Fanti man described Nkruamah rule with the following words whilst justifying the necessity of the coup. General J. A. Ankrah, who was selected to be head of the new government installed on February 24, justified the Army's seizure of power as a corrective to the faults of Nkrumah and the Convention People's Party, which he described as "maladministration, mismanagement, the loss of individual freedom, and economic chaos.". As written in the Africa Report Magazine, 1966.

Nkrumah's fall according to grandpa met spontaneous celebration throughout Ghana and General Kotoka in particular was hailed as a national hero who liberated the country from the dictatorship of a self declared life president, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

Here are the names of the members of the National Liberation Council which overthrew Nkrumah: Lt. General J. A. Ankrah (chairman of the NLC), Mr J W K Harlley(Inspector General Of Police and vice chairman of the NLC), Brigadier A. A. Africa, Mr B A Yakubu(Deputy Commissioner of Police), Major Gen A K Ocran, Lt. General E K Kotoka, Mr A K Deku(Commissioner of Ploice, CID), Mr J E O Nunoo(Commissioner of Police, Administration). These are the heads which came together to plan the strategic overthrow of Ghana's first president to the pleasure of Majority of Ghanaians at the time. The J B Dankwah's, Obitsebi Lampteys, Paa Grants, Ako Adjeis and so on may wish they did it but it wasn't them.

Be corrected if you are one of the people who think Nkrumah was overthrown by UGCC, PP or NPP elements. Yes, they did not like his governance and his self declaration as life president but they lacked the ability to overthrow him at the time. This is the true story and you can verify it from the archives of the Africa Report Magazine 1966 or the Overthrow Of Nkrumah! 1967.

God bless our homeland Ghana.

Noah Dugubrame Asare. Frankfurt, Germany.

Columnist: Asare, Noah Dugubrame