Book launches by two Military Officers - New Phenomenon?
On Wednesday, 1st November 2023, I attended two Book Launches. The first in the morning was at Burma Camp by a serving officer Cdr (Rev) David Benedict Quayson. The second in the afternoon at the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) was by a retired officer, Maj (Dr) Ebenezer Kwakye Agyeman (Rtd).
Cdr Quayson launched a barrage of four books; “Marriage God’s Way,” “Institutional Chaplaincy in Africa,” “Skills Training Handbook,” and “Spousal Handbook.” Maj (Dr) Agyemang’s book was titled “The Dynamics of Transnational Crime and Terrorism, An emerging Security Challenge for West Africa.”
Later that night, when I told a friend how my day was spent at Book Launches by two officers of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), he exclaimed,
“Ehiee! I never knew the Army as a hub of authors. Is this a new phenomenon?”
Once again, I was pushed into former Chairman of the National Media Commission Nana Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng’s waiting arms of strong suggestion that, “General, please get your Public Relation Directorate of the Ghana-Armed-Forces to educate us civilians out of our colonial thinking, rather ignorantly and sometimes arrogantly, of the wrong notion of the military as a post-Second World War institution of illiterates!”
In his book “The African Tightrope” (1961), the last British Chief-of-the-Defence-Staff (CDS) of GAF, Maj Gen HT Alexander stated, “Ghana will rue/regret the day it allows its Armed Forces to enter politics, or allow politics to enter its Armed Forces!”
Was it prophetic? This was before the phenomenon of coups started in West Africa with Sgt Eyadema’s overthrow of President Sylvanus Olympio in Togo on 13th January 1963.
Following the overthrow of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s First Republic on 24th February 1966, Lt Gen Albert Ocran, one of the three members of the Interim-Presidential-Commission from 1969-70 which ushered in Dr Busia’s Second Republic, wrote a book in 1968 titled “The Myth is Broken.” Other members of the Commission were Mr JWK Harlley, the Inspector-General-of-Police of the Ghana Police Service and Lt Gen AA Afrifa who was the chairman. The Commission was replaced by an interim ceremonial president in 1970, Nii Amaa Ollennu.
The GAF is a microcosm of society, and therefore not immune/insulated from the general Ghanaian attitude of not writing. The energy appears to be reserved for talking and criticizing what has been written.
Indeed, when I asked two prominent Ghanaians why they had not written their autobiographies for posterity, I found their answers intriguing. They both said, they could not write because some big people they necessarily had to mention if they wrote for their “crimes against Ghana” are still alive. Knowing how vicious and vindictive reactions such writing could draw to them, they had withheld writing for now for their own safety. Unfortunately, one died with all his knowledge!
So, while the period between Independence and 2000 saw only a handful of military authors like Lt Gen E.A. Erskine, Maj Gen Henry Anyodoho, Gp Capt Jackson, Maj General Adu-Amanfoh and Col Festus Aboagye at the tail end of the C20th, the C21st has seen many more officers writing. Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd) started in 2002 with the publication of his first book “Leadership and the Challenges of Command – The Ghana Military Academy Experience.”
This appears to have whetted the appetite of military officers authoring books. His mate Maj George Sarpong (Rtd), former Director Ghana Law School also joined as an author. In 2015, Maj Gen Emmanuel Kotia authored a book on UN Peacekeeping in Lebanon and Liberia.
In November 2021 Dr Victor Abbey (Capt Rtd) launched a book in “Corporate Strategy and Leadership.” This was followed by his mate Lt Col Richard Nimako who published a book on “Black Redemption” in January 2022.
Capt Prince Kofi Amoabeng has also authored two books in 2022/23 on the bank he founded, Unique Trust.
In August 2023, Brig Gen Dan Frimpong’s fifth book, his “Autobiography” was launched. This was followed in September 2023 of the launch posthumously of Maj Gen Edjeani-Afenu book “Ladies in Boots.”
Maj Gen William Omane-Agyekum (Rtd) has also authored books on Leadership and Management.
A friend once asked, “Dan, what motivates you to continue writing when it is obvious that those at the helm of affairs who can benefit from your writings do not read. Indeed, even if they read, they don’t care about Ghana. So, why do you waste your time writing?”
However, the question by another friend as to whether military authorship is a new phenomenon appears justified from the evidence available. More military officers are authoring books as their contribution to national development, in spite of the potential of being victimised for writing the truth, as I suffered.
As I concluded in an article, “Writing – Safe or dangerous enterprise?” what motivates authors is that, the educational, informative, and entertainment value aside, writings will outlive us all, including evil-doers who try eliminating/killing authors/writers who expose them.
When revolutionary Colonel Oliver Cromwell killed King Charles 1 in 1649 in England, little did he think his skeleton would be exhumed, tried, stripped of his rank, and sentenced to death twelve years later in 1661, and thereafter remain a controversial villain in British history forever! Since "History repeats itself,” so shall it be with those of Cromwell’s ilk in Ghana whose revolutionary legacy is indiscipline, disrespect, corruption and “let the blood flow” mentality, who unconscionably brag about their expertise in blood-letting violence.
Finally, while military officers have written in the past, two book launches on the same day as happened on 1st November 2023 by two officers at Burma Camp and Teshie is unprecedented.
Thanks to writing, Dr Nkrumah’s Pan-Africanist ideas continue in spite of his books eg, “Africa must Unite and “Imperialism, the last stages of Neo-colonialism” being set ablaze after his overthrow in 1966.
More officers are encouraged to write as professional development, and to preserve history, and also as the military’s contribution to Ghana’s development.
Leadership, Lead! Fellow Ghanaians, WAKE UP!
The writer is a Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya and Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Accra