How 1975, 1976 & 1977 Shaped 4th June 1979 Revolution in Ghana
Another June Four is here, removed from the statutes as a national holiday but marked enthusiastically by its adherents.
The Ghana 1979 revolution was spearheaded by the lower ranks in the armed forces which anointed a certain Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings as the leader.
It followed a failed mutiny the previous month, precisely on May 15, which led to the arrests of the alleged ring leaders but quickly transitioned to the unexpected release of Rawlings from incarceration. It is claimed that the junior ranks took the action of freeing him from bondage and court martial in spontaneous reaction to a bold statement by Rawlings, “leave my men alone”. Then everything erupted, changed and brought into existence a new military junta.
But, when people talk about June Four 1979, it ends there. Never had the discussion surveyed the history behind 1979. One of those who best told that story is the Retired Brigadier-General Joseph Nunoo Mensah. He sent us to the uncharted waters of the mid-1970s when some dynamics within the military made the pot brittle till the distended pot exploded and broke into fragments in 1979.
General Nunoo Mensah said, it all started when Ghana’s Head of State between 1972 and 1978, General Kutu Acheampong gave political appointments to officers in the military who were lower in rank to the top brass. Thus, the generals remained in the barracks while some colonels or thereabout became Commissioners (as ministers at the time were known). He said, this undermined authority and discipline within the military hierarchy.
The source said, the Head of State, Gen. Acheampong lost focus and became power-drunk. The military which has the cardinal role of defending and protecting national territory and interests against aggressors, and not to assume the reigns of government, appeared to drink deep collectively into the “political soup.” This blurred the lines, and painted the once disciplined armed forces with the brush of corruption.
According to Brigadier-General (RTD), Nunoo Mensah, Acheampong’s number two man, Gen. Fred W.K Akuffo was made to takeover in a palace coup in 1978, after a meeting at the Burma Camp had declared Gen. Acheampong a persona non-grata.
The following year, the junior officers ran over the establishment in a fashion uncharacteristic of the military. They began to issue orders to the High Command as the nation descended into chaotic scenes and a state of emergency during the coup. It also led to the execution of Acheampong, Akuffo and senior officers in the putsch ring leaders described as house-cleaning.
He Nunoo Mensah survived the storm because he was not in the bracket of the Politico-Military Chi-Chi.
Those who led ostentatious lifestyles prior to the coup were the ones who became the low-hanging fruits of the season.
Rawlings in saddle, briefly handing over to Dr Hilla Limann in September 1979, with his return on 31st December, 1981, in another seizure of power, he became one of Ghana’s most popular politicians, but loathed by those on the wrong side of his revolution.
He won democratic elections twice and is credited with setting the foundations for the most durable democratic political dispensation in Ghana.
Rawlings died November 12, 2020 after a short illness. That was close to 23 years after he left office, upon the expiration of his mandatory term. His 8-year democratic reign was preceded by 11 years of his military rule. A Chief of Staff in his tenure, Nana Ato Dadzie had once stated that Rawlings survived 77 coup attempts.