Historically, it has invariably been the members of the Ghana Armed Forces who have been committing most of the atrocities in the country in the name of National Liberation and National Defense and Revolution. We are not psychologically used to having the members of the most lawless coercive institution in the country assaulted by civilians, let alone set upon and mercilessly and bestially lynched by a mob of rustic civilians who are supposed to be the most military- and gun-shy at the same time. And this is why the admittedly brutal murder of Capt. Maxwell Adam Mahama, posthumously promoted to the rank of a Major, by a lynch-mob in the village of Denkyira-Obuasi, in the Central Region, came as a complete shock to what, at least according to media reports, amounted to the majority of Ghanaians.
In reality, quite a slew of Ghanaian citizens lose their husbands, wives, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, colleagues and associates day-in and day-out. And so, in reality, the excruciating pains presumably experienced by the widow of the slain serviceman, Mrs. Barbara Mahama, was more typical and representative than it may on first blush appear to be. I also don’t know that as a country with the sort of at best an uneasy relationship with the members of our Armed Forces, and at the worst plain hostility, we ought to be about the ungodly business of building statues and other monuments to honor our soldiers, the way that quite a remarkable percentage of Ghanaian citizens do honor and cherish the memory of the immortalized Gen. Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka, whose statue graces the main gateway into the country, to wit, the erstwhile Accra International Airport, which was fittingly renamed the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), after the man who led the gallant men in uniform who auspiciously and progressively overthrew the Nkrumah-led one-party dictatorship of the so-called Convention People’s Party (CPP), on February 24, 1966.
Kotoka would be slayed a year later by some upstart low-ranking military officers hungry for power, fame, fortune and the glory and wealth that were widely perceived to come with successful coup-plotting or staging. We could debate endlessly the question of whether, indeed, Gen. Kotoka deserved to have had a life-sized statue or monument mounted on a tall giant-sized pedestal erected in his memory and honor. But that is not the point of this short essay today. Even though, I am deeply inclined to quickly add, at least in passing, that Ghanaians appear to have an easy time honoring victimized transients whose only significance inheres primarily in the circumstances under which they lost their lives, than real heroes and giants with sustained, consistent and yeomanly achievements like the widely acclaimed Doyen of Gold Coast and Modern Ghanaian Politics, to wit, Dr. Joseph Kwame Kyeretwie Boakye-Danquah (or JB Danquah, for short). This de facto founder of the country’s flagship academy and the largest tertiary institution of its kind in the West African sub-region, the University of Ghana, has yet to have any fitting institutional monument either named in his honor and memory or specially established for that purpose.
Not very long ago, when some of us avid students and scholars of modern Ghanaian history raised the inescapably pertinent question of renaming at least part of the sprawling campus of the University of Ghana after the man who, more than any other illustrious citizen of the land, singularly championed the cause for the preceding institution’s establishment, our political opponents and detractors sneered off such a noble proposition by desecrating the name and memory of Dr. Danquah with unspeakable and unprintable words of disdain. Nearly a decade later, we are now being told that the memory of Major Mahama needs to be honored and cherished with a statuary monument, if only to meliorate some of the anguish suffered by the dead man’s 27-year-old widow, relatives and, indeed, the anguish of all Ghanaian citizens at large. We hope we are not either mishearing and/or misquoting anybody.
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