Tough man, Captain Kojo Tsikata, once head of National Security during the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) regime is finally about to wear his “wooden pyjamas”; a humorous name he had for a coffin.
The celebrated Achimota school product, a military strategist who was top of his army cadet class in the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) in Britain, died last Saturday, age 85.
Captain Tsikata nicknamed “Carlos Gómez” a cover name from his military exploits, particularly in Angola and other places, had been away from public eye for some time now, but quietly shuffling between his native Keta and Accra.
The mystical figure also nicknamed “Gblagblaza” Cockroach in his native Anlo dialect whose mystery was in his stony silence and few words, has been unwell for some time now, including having to be on life support machine at a point, The Herald learnt.
Statement from the family signed by Col. Joshua Agbotui (Rtd) and Fui Tsikata, said Captain Tsikata, died in the early hours of Saturday, November 20, 2021.
“In accordance with his wishes, the family will be making arrangements for a private family funeral,” the statement added but failed to mention where he died.
With the family statement, it’s unclear if President Nana Akufo-Addo, who had several times referred to him as his big brother, friend and mentor, will attempt to give him a military burial.
“Kojo T” as he was also called, was said to have had a remarkable military career and was the first among his peers to attain the rank of a Captain. He could have stayed on and risen to be a fully-fledged Lieutenant General of the Ghana Armed Forces, but opted out early; he loved military actions.
At the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the young Kojo Tsikata, was said to have emerged top of his officers training class and the then President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah sent a delegation from Ghana to London to attend his passing out parade, with pictures of him making it into the dailies at the time.
Those who knew him, while serving as a military officer, said he was the delight and envy of many young officers, and to his senior officers, he was the model soldier that all should aspire to be.
Senior officers who saw him in action during Ghana’s engagement in the United Nations (UN) mission during the Congo political crisis in the 1960s which eventually saw the assassination of Patrice Émery Lumumba on January 17, 1961, say he endeared himself in the hearts of Congolese with his strategy and tactical discipline.
During the Angolan Civil War; Captain Tsikata, fought alongside Angola’s former President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos’ People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).
In 1982, he was appointed to serve in the government of the late Jerry Rawlings as the head of national security.
Upon leaving the Rawlings government in mid 1990s, reports are that he spent time in Cuba, Venezuela, Libya and other countries providing security strategies.
He was later honoured by many of the countries including Libya, Cuba, South Africa, Algeria, Angola and others. Some gave him their highest state honours.
He sparked controversy when he rejected a national award to be conferred on him in the category of the order of Volta companion under President John Kufour of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2008.
In a statement dated June 23, 2008, Kojo Tsikata said “I have just returned from a trip outside Ghana. While abroad, I learnt of the bizarre proceedings in the High Court before Mrs. Henrietta Abban on Wednesday, 18 June, which have led to the incarceration of my cousin, Tsatsu.”
“I have now learnt that my name is on a list of persons on whom national honours are to be conferred. I cannot fathom the mental processes that led to my name being put on that list. Let me put it beyond doubt that I will not accept any honours from Mr John Agyekum Kufuor or any of his cronies who have blatantly and cynically engaged in a systematic manipulation of the judicial process.”
His former boss, the late Jerry John Rawlings, also rejected the award, saying he wants justice to be served in the cases of Yaa Naa, Alhaji Issa Mobila, Tsatsu Tsikata and Dan Abodakpi.
Kojo Tsakata, was a friend to the late poet and literature don, Prof. Kofi Awoonor and Dr Obed Asamoah, with whom he attended Achimota School.
One time the news media claimed that he had died, Captain Tsikata, the next day remarked he had not yet worn his wooden pajamas, implying he had not yet been put in a coffin.
“In 1992, he traveled to Iran , where he stayed for months. Ghanaian media mostly opposed to the PNDC regime ran riot with fake news that Kojo T had died, with no info coming from gov’t. Finally, Gbabladza arrived at the Kotoka International Airport, and one journalist asked him at the VVIP lounge about the death story, and he responded, ” I am not yet ready for the wooden pyjamas.”
The statement announcing his demise was signed by Col. Joshua Agbotui (Rtd), late President Rawlings’ uncle and Fui Tsikata, his cousin, a senior brother to Tsatsu Tsikata.
Prof. Kofi Awoonor, his friend was cremated, but it’s unclear if Captain Tsikata had also opted for cremation.