June 2022 was a roller-coaster month of varying emotions for many. There were happy birthdays, sad “death-days” and painful memorials!
From Tuesday, 28 June - Thursday 30th June 2022, I was part of a panel of four retired Generals who talked about Ghana’s Peacekeeping contributions to the United Nations from 1960 to the end of the Cold-War in the early 1990s at a Workshop.
Our team was led by Maj-Gen Henry Kwami Anyidoho, the Deputy-Force-Commander during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994.
The Kofi-Annan-International-Peacekeeping-Training-Centre (KAIPTC), Teshie in conjunction with the Danish-Institute-for-International-Studies (D-IIS), Copenhagen, Denmark organised a three-day Workshop to share Ghana’s peacekeeping experience. Other contributors were serving military officers, with a sizeable number of females with rich peacekeeping, and lecturers from KAIPTC.
As my pick-up went into the potholes of Teshie-Maamii “(Inner-Teshie)” after a futile thirty-minutes attempt to go initially by the Spintex Road on my way to the Workshop, I noticed my vision was getting blurred. Soon, the dam broke and tears rolled down. It was 28th June 2022 and my radio was on Peace FM.
While trying to suppress my underlying-condition of 28th June 2008 being the day on which our son Nana Osei died, ace broadcaster Kwami Sefa Kayi was giving a preview of “Martyrs’ Day” two days hence. 30th June 2022 would be the fortieth anniversary of the abduction, murder and attempted incineration of the bodies of three High Court Judges and a retired Army Officer on 30th June 1982.
On the night of 30th June 1982, Justices Fred Poku Sarkodie, Kwadwo Agyei Agyapong and Cecilia Koranteng-Addow, as well Maj Sam Acquah (Rtd) were abducted from their homes. This was in the heat of the 1979/1981 revolution when Ghanaians were subjected to a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Later, their charred bodies were found at the Bundase Military Range by a herdsman.
For a little barrack-boy who had classmates whose fathers (the Generals) were executed in 1979, as well as later association with relations of victims of the revolution, Kwami Sefa Kayi’s graphic description of events educated many Ghanaian who were shocked to hear such barbarity, often associated with other countries, took place in Ghana in 1979/1981! For many young Ghanaians, it was a humbling and sobering education which brought them to tears.
It was also a painful reminder of what my colleagues and I of the Recce Regiment went through, and colleagues we lost!
Professor Kwasi Aning, who moderated the panel-discussion of the four Generals began with the questions
1. “What are the philosophical underpinnings for Ghana’s participation in International Peacekeeping operations?”
2. What did 43 Ghanaian soldiers die for in then Belgian-Congo (DRC) in 1960 as UN peacekeepers?
3. What happened to their families and how do we remember them?”
Our discussions revealed that, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah decided to use the Ghana Armed Forces as an instrument to pursue Ghana’s foreign policy objectives. Unsurprisingly, Ghana was one of the first two countries to arrive in Congo in July 1960 to support the embattled new Prime-Minister Lumumba.
The Ghana Navy also sailed to Africa ports on “goodwill trips” to project Ghana.
In a lecture to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Ghana Air Force (GAF) in 2010, Air-Marshal Ashley-Larsen stated that, at the time of the overthrow of Osagyefo in 1966, GAF had over seventy aircraft which flew in Africa to project Ghana.
Unfortunately, after Nkrumah’s overthrow, peacekeeping lost focus as a viable instrument of Ghana’s foreign policy.
With the current nebulous stance, Ghana’s peacekeeping objective in our Foreign Policy needs a redefinition.
The discussion revealed that, while Ghana’s military conducts rigorous tests on soldiers before departure for peacekeeping operations, no similar medical checks are conducted on their return. Some psychologically scarred soldiers from Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD) are simply released from the service. Many do not live long.
Discussions on Gender were led by Ghana’s second female General, Brig Gen Felicia Twum-Barima who spoke on Zoom from Cote d’Ivoire where she is our Defence Attaché. The lady officers shared varying experiences of the difficulty of breaking into male dominated area especially as Military-Observers (MILOBs), and on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) of vulnerable local females by international-peacekeepers.
Ghana must redefine and write about our peacekeeping experiences for the world.
Again, for some Ghanaians who glorify coups/revolutions and gleefully talk about them as an academic exercise, know that, like wild bushfires started by arsonists, the fires they start blaze out control and end up consuming them. Remember the saying, revolutions consume their own children.
For the coup/revolution beneficiaries, remember Oliver Cromwell who executed King Charles 1 in 1648 in a coup! Nemesis continues to dog him/family!
May the souls of Justices Sarkodie, Agyapong, Cecilia Koranteng-Addow, Maj Sam Acquah (Rtd), the executed Generals in 1979/1981 and all Ghanaians who lost their lives directly or indirectly, the 43 Ghanaian soldiers slaughtered in Congo in 1961, and those who died in subsequent peacekeeping operations, rest in peace.
For Nana Osei, fourteen years on, the pain remains. RIP!
Fellow Ghanaians, WAKE UP!
Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd)
Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association
Family Health University College
Source: Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd), Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya
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