A book recounting the life and work of General Ignatius Acheampong, Ghana’s fifth Head of State, was launched at the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Accra yesterday, to mark the former military ruler’s 90th birthday.
‘General Acheampong – The life and Times of Ghana’s Head of State’, a 240-page hardcover, tracks the life, special moments, and the leadership of General Acheampong of the National Redemption Council (NRC) and the Supreme Military Council (SMC) which ruled Ghana from January 1972 to July 1978.
The book was written by Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah, former UN Senior Governance Adviser and co-founder of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and is published by DigiBooks Ghana Limited.
It was launched by Mr. Robert Adeleke Adebiyi, a special emissary of General Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Republic of Nigeria. His Excellency General Obasanjo addressed the audience via video recording from the Sudan as he could not attend the launch due to an emergency diplomatic assignment, occasioned by his new appointment as the Africa Union’s Representative to the Horn of Africa.
In both his video interaction and the speech read on his behalf, the former Nigerian President described General Acheampong as a brilliant and highly professional (military) officer – ‘a friend and a colleague’ of his.
“Today, September 23, 2021, General Kutu Acheampong would have been 90 years old. He was 48 when he died. I am here to join family and friends to celebrate him, as a book in his honour is being publicly presented, General Acheampong and I were colleagues in the army (though different armies- he of the Ghanaian Army and I of the Nigerian Army). I knew him as a brilliant, highly professional and fine officer,” President Obasanjo said.
Extolling some of the achievements of General Acheampong, President Obasanjo said, in spite of the brevity of his life, the late General ‘etched his mark in the annals of development of his country’, citing Ghana’s change from the imperial to the metric system of measurement; the switch from driving on the left to right-hand drive; "Operation Feed Yourself", the upgrading of stadia to meet international standards and various face-lift projects for some cities, as worthy contributions to the country’s development.
Of the book, His excellency Obasanjo said, “This book that we are launching today presents unique perspectives to governance and offers lessons to be learned by those in power and the followership. It dispels untruths and attempts to set the records straight. In it, we are able to see a rich and comprehensive documentation of his contributions to the growth and development of Ghana.
“My friend and colleague, General Ignatius Acheampong has done his bit and like every actor, has left the stage. It remains for others who are on stage to reflect on what you want to be remembered for,” General Obasanjo concluded.
Goodwill messages delivered by Archbishop Peter Akwasi Sarpong, the Archbishop Emeritus of Kumasi, playwright Joris Wartenberg and veteran Journalist, Ambassador Kabral Blay Amihere, all eloquently extolled General Acheampong’s humility, pragmatism and good intentions as a Head of State.
The author, Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah, in recounting his motivation for writing the book, stressed that he did set out to glorify General Acheampong for his achievements or endorse his coup d’état which overthrew the Busia regime in January 1972.
“I am an incurable democrat and under no circumstance will I endorse a coup d’état against a democratically elected government. As I emphasise in the book, I consider any military regime, no matter its calibre, as untenable,” Prof Agyeman-Duah said.
“The book presents a composite picture of how this General, with very humble beginnings, emerged into national leadership and, for almost seven years, ruled the country. In a contextualized and objective fashion, the book captures the entirety of Acheampong’s life: the good, the bad, and the ugly,” he said.
The launch ceremony itself was a sober affair, as it drew together family members of the late General, retired military colleagues, Service Commanders of the Ghana Army, dons of academia and his personal friends and close associates. The highpoints of the ceremony were when General Obasanjo’s emissary assisted Madam Faustina Acheampong, former first lady, to unveil the book and when daughters of the former military ruler led the audience to sing the National Pledge, one of the lasting introductions of General Acheampong.
The book was dispassionately reviewed by Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, Dean of the School of Information and Communication Studies, Legon and the first copy was bought at Ghc 20,000.00.
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