By Abdul Razak Bawa
The most cherished moments in my adult life, is the opportunity to get to meet the man I adored and whose name always evokes certain nostalgic feelings, General Arnold Quainoo, popularly known as Buffalo Soldier.
As he clocked 80 last Friday, General Arnold Quainoo, I do not only want to wish him a Happy Birthday, but I want to celebrate him, and tell him that, he is a true and unique leader, he opens up and welcomes all, regardless of age, tribe, profession etc and only one word sums him up, he is the ‘People’s’ General.
The very successful story of the Ghana Armed Forces will be incomplete without the generous mentioned of General Arnold Quainoo.
He served in various capacities and established so many traditions, as well as institutions that today are the bulwark of what makes our Armed Forces one of the best in the world.
Unfortunately and sadly as a country, we do not celebrate our heroes. Institutional memories are not documented for future generations.
The sacrifice, dedication and commitments that people like General Arnold Quainoo, gave to this country, we should establish a hall of fame, where as a country, we will give them their right of place, as we hope to aspire others to do same.
In this country, and as in other climes, we form opinions of people before we even get the opportunity to meet them, but whatever people’s view of the man is, General Arnold Quainoo, is a national sensation—popular, charismatic, charming, enigmatic, redoubtable and kind.
General Arnold Quainoo, is a fountain of knowledge and experience, the pearls of wisdom that flow from his words, thoughts and demeanour, continue to magnetise the people, the old, the youth, students, journalist and interest groups, who frequent him for inspiration and counseling.
A ten minutes conversation with the General and you will not go away without learning anything; he touches and reaches you like no other human being will.
General Arnold Quainoo, represents the best and brightest of his generation. He also embodies the aspirations of that generation.
From what he achieved as the Chief of Army Staff first in 1979 and then from 1982 – 1987, by the assessment of those who knew and worked with him , uplifted the face of professionalism in the Ghana Armed Forces, as he recognised greatness and appreciated any good he could find in a person and encouraged many to actualise their potentials.
He was appointed Chief of Defense Staff from 1983– 1989, his sterling performance, temperament and leadership qualities brought stability to the Armed Forces.
More than anything else, I recall his exceptional leadership qualities, good foresight as well as a powerful sense of mission that endeared him to friends and foes alike, when he was appointed the first commander of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) which intervened in Liberia to help end the civil war.
General Arnold Quainoo
Many of his legacies live on. Not many, not even some of his closest friends and associates, know that General Arnold Quainoo established the Office of Chief of Staff.
He was the Chief of Staff to General Akuffo.
He led the Ghanaian contingent that won Silver at the FIFA-Coca Cola Cup World Youth Championship in Australia, 1993.
He established the Veterans Association of Ghana (VAG) Club House.
His commitment to duty, dedication to public service, appreciation of what it means to be human and his approach to issues that cut across political, social and economic tendencies commended him to those he came in contact with. He was a leader in the classical definition of the word.
The task of fixing Ghana, to him, is an eternal calling. It was in that spirit that he accepted to serve under president John Evans Atta Mills, as a member of the Council of State.
His advice and those of his colleagues is what led to that period from 2009 to 2012, as the golden era of the Fourth Republican dispensation.
The last time I sat with him, he took out a paper and read the following words of Kahlil Gibran and explained to me word by word, line by line, what this means;“ Then said a teacher, Speak to us of Teaching, And he said:
No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge.
The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of this faith and his lovingness.
If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather lead you to the threshold of your own mind.
The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.
The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm, nor the voice that echoes it.
And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct your thither.
For the vision of one man leads not its wings to another man.
And even as each one of you stands alone in God’s knowledge, so must each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God and in his understanding of the earth”.
Tell me, then, how it is possible not to celebrate this iconic figure. His kind are rare, and only live once in every 500 years. How can anyone afford not to admire him?
As you celebrate this milestone in your life, I salute you and wish you and your caring family happiness and good health.
All of us at The Herald, value your sacrifices, generosity and love, it is our fervent hope and prayer that, you will around long enough for us to drink from the fountain of knowledge.