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Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka

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Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka

Ex Head of State: 1966 1969

Emmanuel Kwesi Kotoka234
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Major General Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka was born on 26 September 1926 and died on the 17 April 1967, was a member of the ruling National Liberation Council which came to power in Ghana in a military coup d'état on 24 February 1966.This overthrew the government of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of the republic.

Emmanuel Kotoka was born at Alakple,a village in the Keta district of the Volta Region of the Gold Coast (British colony).He completed his basic education at the Alakple Roman Catholic School and later the Anloga Senior School in 1941. He started training as a goldsmith but switched to a career in the military.

In July 1947, he enlisted as a private in the Infantry School of the Gold Coast Regiment at Teshie in Accra. He rose through the ranks, becoming a sergeant in 1948 and later Company Sergeant Major in 1951. In 1952, he was among some west African soldiers selected for training at Eaton Hall Officer Cadet School in the United Kingdom. In 1954, he was commissioned as a lieutenant and seconded to the British army on the Rhine.

On his return to the (Gold Coast) (as Ghana was then called), he was made a Platoon Commander of the Second Gold Coast Regiment of Infantry. He rose to become the Second-in-Command and in 1959 became the Platoon Commander with the rank of Captain. He was promoted to the rank of Major later that year. In 1960, he attended the Company Commander's course at the School of Infantry in Warminster, England. In 1960, he was the commander of D company of the detachment of the Second Battalion of the Ghana army which made up Ghana's contingent in the United Nations Operation in the Congo deployed in the capital, Leopoldville, now Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was regarded as a national hero following this deployment. He was awarded the Ghana Service Order for Exceptional Bravery for Distinguished Service in the Congo in 1963. He later became the Commander of the Second Infantry Brigade (now the Northern Command) of the Ghana Army) located at Kumasi.

In 1965, the then Lieutenant-Colonel Kotoka was transferred to Kumasi where he met and became friends with then Major Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa, an officer in the Second Brigade of the Ghana army. The two are generally credited with being among the key conspirators behind the first bloody coup d'état in Ghana on 24 February 1966 which brought an end to the first republic. They codenamed it "Operation Cold Chop". It was Kotoka who announced the coup to the nation early that morning from the Broadcasting House of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, the official radio station in Ghana. The Central Intelligence Agency appears to have been aware about the plotting of the coup at least a year ahead. Kotoka was promoted Major General and became a member of the ruling National Liberation Council and also the Commissioner for Ministry of Health as well as General Officer Commanding the Ghana Armed Forces.

On 17 April 1967, there was an abortive coup attempt involving junior officers of the reconnaissance regiment located at Ho in the Volta Region.It was code named "Guitar-boy". It led to the killing of Kotoka by Lt. Moses Yeboah after heavy fighting. Lt. Moses Yeboah and another colleague were later tried and executed by a military tribunal. The Ghana International Airport was renamed Kotoka International Airport in his memory.He was killed at a spot which is now part of the forecourt of the airport and his statue stands at that point.

The Irish poet, Máire Mhac an tSaoi, wrote a poem in his memory - "Sea never dry" published in 1968 in the magazine Comhair and subsequently in a collection called "Codladh an Ghaiscigh" published by Sairséal & Dill (Dublin) in 1973. She also included in a recording by Claddagh Records (Ómós do Scoil Dhún Chaoin) in 1970.. ''"É d'éag d'fhág trom mo chroise, An saighdiúir gorm, I bhfad ó fhód a shínte, An Saighdiúir gorm