The other day I read something very funny in the dailies. A certain young history professor in KNUST, aged 29 years, was complaining bitterly that his subject, HISTORY, was becoming an ?endangered species?? because students are not attracted to it. What a tragedy.
King Solomon, writing 2,000 years Before Christ, wrote that ?there is nothing new under the sun? which means literally that human behaviour has never changed.
If you want to know what will happen tomorrow, broadly speaking, then you need to have a thorough grasp of the events of yesterday, then have a critical understanding of what is happening right now, then you can easily predict the events of tomorrow.
If there is anybody that society should fear or listen to for advice, then it is the historian.
When I was in the University I learnt of a latin expression ? TEMPUS FUGIT ? which means ?Time flies? I look back now, and I am struck with AWE ? oh, how TIME FLIES?????.truly the Romans were right, TIME FLIES????????.
The day was Monday, 5 July 1978
Reader, where were you?
On that day I was a University graduate from Legon, LLB (Hons), but had abandoned my legal studies and joined the Army. I had been sent to the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurts, UK where I was studying as a cadet in training, billed for commissioning as Lieutenant on 4 August 1978.
Back? home in Ghana, the Supreme Military Council was in power, vigorously pursuing their policy of Union Government, to have a pseudo military civilian regime.
The Supreme Military Council was constituted by all? the service Commanders plus the IGP and they were an offshoot of the coup makers junta, called National Redemption Council.
So, come, Monday, 5 July 1978.
General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, Head? of State and Chairman of the Supreme Military Council, living in the officers? mess at Arakan Barracks, Burma Camp, Accra left his residence in his official convoy and sneaked through Burma Camp to the offices of the Minister of Defence. (please? take note that Acheampong , Head of State, was simultaneously? the Minister? of Defence himself, and by design he always passed through MOD offices on Monday morning to attend to routine duties before moving on to the Castle as Head of State.)
And so the Head of State? entered his office as Minister of Defence and sat at his desk. What he did not notice and obviously could not have known was that all the regular body guards at the MOD had been replaced? that very morning by a contingent? of elite soldiers picked up from the 48 field Engineers? Regiment located on the road to Teshie.
They were fully armed, looking deadly serious, and brooked no jokes. Eyewitnesses say there was tension at the Ministry of Defence perimeter because the soldiers from field Engineers looked nervous, as if they were inches away from explosion.
Normally when a visitor wants to see the Head of State in the office of the Minister of Defence, you have to of course, pass through the Secretary.
In fact, in my life I have visited several?? big men in their offices, including the Managing Director of Ashanti Gold fields. But I can assure you one of the most DIFFICULT persons to see is the Minister of Defence.
I remember when Dr. Addo Kuffuor was Minister of Defence. I was MP, like him, and I could easily have seen him in the chamber of Parliament, but the nature of the service I needed from him was one that had to be done in his office as Minister of Defence ? so I went there, and reader, it was interesting.
Sit here. Fill this form. Wait here. Follow this man. Pass there. Wait here. Hold on???? oh, my God ? Minister of Defence? But don?t blame the Minister. That is the arrangement put down by the soldiers. If you want to see their Minister, then pass through this protocol, otherwise you can please yourself.
So, seated in his office, General I. K Acheampong, at about 08:30 hours, fully dressed with his peps and cap to match, he felt very safe and very secured.
All of a sudden the door opened, without notice, and in entered? the Chief of Defence staff? LT General FWK Akuffo, immediately followed by Army Commander Major General Odartey Wellington,? then Navy Commander, then Air Force Commander, then Border Guards Commander ? all in uniform, fully dressed.
Acheampong was shocked.
He looked up and remarked? ?This is an invasion !!!!?
Nobody laughed at what was meant as a joke. They all looked grim, and deadly serious. And nobody sat down. They were all standing. Of course nobody saluted him as protocol demanded.
Odartey Wellington acted as their spokesman. He pulled a small piece of paper and placed it in front of General Acheampong ? sign here.
Acheampong read it: ?I? hereby resign as Head of? State and Chairman of the Supreme Military Council.
?I won?t sign !!!?
?You will sign !!? retorted Odartey Wellington.
Acheampong was trapped. There was nobody around to do anything ? not even his personal bodyguard. Surrounding him were officers he had personally handpicked and given regular promotions and appointments ? name them ? Akuffo, Odartey Wellington, Yaw Boakye, Amedume, Arko, Utuka?????.. far back in 1972 when he made his 13 January coup, they were Lieutenant Colonels? and Majors. Now he had made them Generals and here they were forcing him to resign.
After a fruitless argument, Acheampong? took in a very deep breadth and then signed.
The deed had been done. Acheampong was now history. He was brusquely escorted to a waiting pinzgaeur with armoured cars in tow and driven to Brigade Headquarters at Kpeshie. A long? convoy then left Kpeshie in a two hour bombastic war drive along the Accra ? Atimpoku ? Adomi Bridge ? Peki road finally to AMEDZOFE Guest House.
Then Radio Ghana made a terse announcement:
?General I K Acheampong, Head of State and Chairman of the Supreme Military Council has resigned. Lt General F W K Akuffo Chief of Defence Staff has taken over as? the new Head? of State and Chairman of the Supreme Military Council.?
Eleven months later, Odartey Wellington was killed in a bloody military coup on 4 June 1979 and two weeks later all those who were players on 5 July lined up at Teshie shooting range and executed by firing squad.
By Captain Nkrabea Effah Dartey