February 24, the Day
Progress Died in Ghana
February 24, 2017
On this day February 24, 1966, Lt.
Colonel Kotoka, Major Akwasi Afrifa and the
Armed Forces of Ghana, at the instigation and with copious help
from Western interests, took upon themselves a mandate for the
forceful removal from office the constitutionally elected
president of the Republic of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
And thus began the tailspin in the affairs of Ghana
one writer was to describe it later, it was also the beginning
of the “celebration of traitors.”
The soldiers, now the National
Liberation Council (NLC) became
instant heroes and Accra International Airport was named after Kotoka.
Western interests were delirious with
the outcome. Even Canada, as one writer,
Yves Angler described it:
"During the three years between
1966 and 1969 the National Liberation Council military regime,
received as much Canadian aid as during Nkrumah’s ten years in
office with $22 million in grants and loans. Ottawa was the
fourth major donor after the US, UK and UN."
Ghanaians were absolute in their beliefs that the coup
was good. The soldiers had saved Ghana from Nkrumah, the dictator.
The soldiers and their enablers naively named the coup a “Glorious Revolution.” To no
one surprise, at least not Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's, this coup was to
bring in many ills in its train; some wickedly consequential and
others devastatingly worst.
It has been some fifty year
since this coup. You would today think that some of our fellow citizens would
know better to show a hint of remorse; not quite.
Overall, there has never been an open
regret: A staging of a national day of soul searching from any
of the succeeding regimes since 1966 - for a coup that
went so wrong.
Instead, there have been many attempts to justify this coup, even
in the face of contradicting historical events, namely, the fact
that the 1966
coup was not the direct product of Ghanaian discontent, but that
of external forces intent on keeping Ghana and Africa under the
yoke of colonialism.
In short, the coup was an effort to force us back to their way
of thinking, prior to the independent era, in order for the exploitation and rape of Africa to continue.
Thus a catastrophic force was released
that would rage for years.
And would continue on a path of destruction of new ideas,
the national character and the novel political culture that was
forming. The destruction would
continue throughout the 70s into the 90s and beyond..
The consequences now weigh heavily
on our progress today.
President Limann was the last to suffer
the terrible fate of a coup on December 31, 1981. After two years in office and
way through his first term, he was toppled.
Many presidents and leaders of institutions before him had gone
down the same way.
blown away after a couple of years as Prime Minister. Next to go
were Generals Akyeampong and Akufo who were part of the
successive military regimes after the NLC of 1966.
And then came Rawlings and his regime.
He was to rule for 19 long years over chaotic scenes of
several attempted coups and bloodsheddings.
Whirlwind.,” Geoffrey Bing, the British expatriate Attorney
General under Nkrumah, was to famously state in the iconoclastic
title of the book by that same name. In the process, he produced one of the
most gripping accounts of the period before and after 1966..
Precious revolutionary ideas born during the Nkrumah period were
seriously damaged and buried with the advent of the February 24, 1966
day of infamy continues to be celebrated in the presence of the memorial
International Airport, named after the general who in a saner
society would have been called a traitor.
This memorial is mind shattering.
It begs the question for the kind of people we are today and also
serves as a reminder of how
oblivious we have become of our collective fortunes or destiny.
in 1966 did not end with the
killings of office holders in the institution of the presidency. It
extended to the killings of other personalities, some judges and
to continue in the wreckage of ideas that had existed under
Kwame Nkrumah was the
founder of modern Ghana and one of the best, if not the most prominent
African leader of the 20th century.
After his removal from office, he was
to die in exile in Guinea in 1972.
He left in books and in examples of
political activism ideas that could help salvage the situation
in Ghana even today.
But there have been many
attempts to tarnish Nkrumah's legacy and the attempts are still
ongoing. Fortunately, many who lived in that era know now that “What Went
Wrong in Ghana” was not of Nkrumah's creation.
And the man in that mirror was
definitely not Nkrumah.
Those imagined “wrongs” were made very
real by the very people who staged the coup. And the ills
were then magnified under various and corrupt regimes that came
But to say the least, it is a lasting testament to observe
now that the soldiers who staged the first coup were very, very
naive. And to add that there is no need for the current
generation in Ghana to be complicit in the naiveté of
these soldiers today.
Ghana, as a result of 1966,
has retrogressed in many and several ways. Primary among
these was the culture of "policy reversal" of preceding
regimes. No idea or project of an old regime was good enough for the
new one to continue.
The only bright time along this messy
period was when President John Kufuor came into office in 2001.
From 2001 to 2008, we had a good
glimpse of what things could have been, the glory that would
have been Ghana, the forward-ever movement, had Nkrumah's ideas,
at least some, continued after 1966.
It remains to be seen if the same spark
under President Kufuor can be achieved
under the current administration of President Nana Akufo-Addo.
Check The Rise and Fall of Nkrumah.
E. Ablorh-Odjidja, Publisher
www.ghanadot.com, Washington, DC, February 24, 2017.
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