During a recent historical masterclass, Dr. Anokye Frimpong, a renowned historian and lawyer, shed light on the unwavering loyalty of Colonel Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, a former coup leader, towards Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah. Dr. Frimpong recounted an incident that took place in the early 1950s when Acheampong was undergoing training to join the colonial army.
On the day of their commissioning, the colonial administration inexplicably decided not to enlist Acheampong, thus jeopardizing his entry into the army. However, Kwame Nkrumah, who was present at the parade grounds, noticed Acheampong sitting alone while his colleagues lined up. Intrigued, Nkrumah approached the young Acheampong and inquired why he was not joining his comrades. Acheampong responded by informing Nkrumah that the white man had deemed him unfit for military service.
Historical records available confirm that Acheampong was eventually commissioned into the army in 1959, during Nkrumah’s presidency. Dr. Frimpong continued his narrative during the GTV Breakfast show, explaining that Nkrumah approached the colonial army leaders and insisted that nobody would join the parade until Acheampong was allowed to participate. After discussions and negotiations, Acheampong was finally called upon to join the parade.
Dr. Frimpong emphasized that this incident played a significant role in fostering Acheampong’s unwavering loyalty to Nkrumah. From his time as Prime Minister to his tenure as an elected president and even after his overthrow, Acheampong was determined to repay Nkrumah for the support he had received. Acheampong vowed to do whatever was necessary to acknowledge and honor Nkrumah’s pivotal role in his life.
Acheampong leads bloodless coup:
Acheampong orchestrated a coup d’état on 13 January 1972, which peacefully overthrew the elected government of the Progress Party led by Dr. Kofi Busia. He assumed the role of head of state and chairman of the National Redemption Council (NRC), which later evolved into the Supreme Military Council on 9 October 1975, with Acheampong being promoted to the rank of General and serving as its chairman.
According to the historian, Acheampong’s motivations for leading the coup against Nkrumah stemmed partly from the previous administration’s reluctance to fulfill a Guinean request for herbs in the Nzema area, which were intended to treat the exiled and ailing Nkrumah following the Kulungungu bombing incident. The historian narrated, “When Acheampong learned that his mentor, father figure, and friend was gravely ill and in need of treatment back in Ghana, he swiftly took action while Busia was away on a medical checkup, and his efforts were successful.”
Acheampong chose to name his junta the ‘National Redemption Council,’ with the inclusion of the word “redemption” as a tribute to Nkrumah, whose title of “Osagyefo” means redeemer. In an attempt to assess Nkrumah’s condition, Acheampong dispatched Francis Nkrumah, the medical doctor and son of Nkrumah, to check on his father’s health. Francis Nkrumah reported that due to the severity of his father’s illness, it would not be possible for Nkrumah to return to Ghana, predicting that he would pass away within a few months.