A tribute in honor of Captain Kojo Tsikata (Rtd) after his mysterious burial on Thursday to crown his mysterious life.
A man who was one of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s most trusted military officers, sent on duty to protect Patrice Lumumba in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire).
A man who accepted the challenge thrown him by President Nkrumah, and therefore volunteered to retire from the Ghana Armed Forces to enable him join, to train and guide the African liberation fighters inside the forested bushes of Angola, fighting the colonial regime.
In the thick forest for years fighting for another oppressed African people, Captain (Rtd) KojoTsikata met the great Che Guevara, the leading figure of the international revolutionary front, and other internationalists who had devoted their lives to the liberation struggles.
Upon the overthrow of President Nkrumah, Capt (Rtd) KojoTsikata’s source of income was cut-off, so had to survive on his own.
Ghana under a new regime, stopped being an ally of the oppressed African countries.
Captain Tsikata (Rtd) was declared a persona non grata by the government of his own country, Ghana.
So, officially, he could not return home until the Generals who failed to assist Nkrumah in empowering the Angolan Freedom Fighters, and who later organised a coup to overthrow the same Nkrumah who made them Generals, finally handed over power to their man and political icon, Dr. K. A Busia, in 1969.
Even at that, Captain KojoTsikata (Rtd) was living in hiding for most of the times he visited Ghana, undetected by agents of the National Liberation Council (NLC) regime, or the Busia government and it’s security apparatuses.
According to his friend Dr. Obed Asamoah, the Captain’s entry into the country and departures from Ghana were mysteries; yet they drove out at night to enjoy some fresh air without being detected by the system. A true Cockroach – gbagbladza.
Then came Acheampong’s National Redemption Council and the Supreme Military Council regime, which overthrew the anti-Nkrumah Busia government.
KojoTsikata thought his old Nkrumahist colleagues were his friends, so he could come home openly and go about his life, including advising the government on security matters.
Unbeknownst to him, those he took for his friends were not comfortable with his presence in Ghana. Acheampong even went public sometime, saying he and his friends DID NOT STAGE THE COUP D’ETAT BECAUSE OF NKRUMAH.
Legend says, Gbagbladza’s friends in control of Ghana had been compromised by Western powers, and warned to disassociate themselves from the retired Captain.
His crime? His engagements with his Communist Cuban friends and being a loyalist of Nkrumah – seen by Western governments as the financier and spearhead of the communist movement in Africa, hence his overthrow.
Something interesting happened. Captain was sent to Nigeria to deliver a message from the Acheampong regime.
Upon his arrival in Lagos, he went to see his friends in the Nigerian Army, one of whom graduated with him from the prestigious Sandhurst Military College.
Remember Kojo T, as he’s affectionately called, won the highest coveted honour in that military training school, revered by the British Government.
In the comfort of his friend’s company and having a good time, the Nigerian General asked him about his new work for the Acheampong government, his rating of the performance of the regime and his perception on the prospects of the regime’s survival.
KojoTsikata spoke favourably at length about how critical the Acheampong coup has been and how it will position Ghana back on track. He also gave his assessment, rating the government’s programmes as popular.
A convinced Nigerian General, then bowed his head, thanked Kojo T for the visit and showed him a secret wired message sent by the Ghanaian government of Acheampong to the Nigerian Government in which the Ghanaian government had requested the assistance of the Nigerian Military rulers to arrest Captain KojoTsikata (Rtd) for engaging in espionage activities against the interest of the Ghanaian government and their Nigerian counterparts.
A shocked Captain Tsikata was dumbfounded and felt betrayed. Of course, his Nigerian friends refused to arrest him.
Kojo T later left Nigeria. He was said to have visited Angola, Algeria, Libya, Cuba for a while. He later returned to Ghana, thinking the matter would have died naturally. That was his mistake.
Under the supervision of then Police Officer, Francis Poku, Captain Tsikata was arrested by the Special Branch (the intelligence wing) of the Ghana Police Service (later called the Bureau of National Intelligence (BNI), I don’t like it’s new name, NIB). He went through torture several times. Sometimes, they left him dead.
Captain KojoTsikata (RTD) survived all those brutalities and left Ghana, after he secured his release.
After the overthrow of the Acheampong government he returned to Ghana briefly and left in April 1979.
By May 15, 1979, an abortive mutiny led by a young officer, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, led to several arrests by General FWK Akuffo’s regime.
And on June 4, 1979, young officers and men from other ranks took up arms at dawn and freed from jail, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings and those arrested with him. That was the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) revolt against the Supreme Military Council.
Captain Tsikata returned in September of 1979 when the soldiers were on the verge of handing over to the Dr. Hilla Liman democratically elected government, which he trusted was led by true Nkrumahists. He intended to come down and help.
Then he started observing that he was being followed by Liman’s Military Intelligence apparatus. Captain was once again unwanted by those he thought were true Nkrumahists, hence his friends.
Therefore, he resorted to flying out to consult for foreign governments which needed his type of ideas, including Brother Muammar Al Qathafi of Libya.
He returned to Ghana only expecting to be followed by the Liman security system, which had on one occasion arrested Flt Jerry John Rawlings and had taken him to Peduase Lodge for interrogation.
Then boom, the 31st December 1981 midnight coup d’etat led by Jerry John Rawlings. He then extended invitation to Captain (not as a member of the PNDC) but as the regime’s Security and Intelligence Coordinator – a job the Captain loved and had wanted to do for Acheampong and Liman, which governments ended up branding him as an enemy.
Captain KojoTsikata, operating from the “Blue Gate,” also called Castle Annex, secured Rawlings’ regime and gave it the longest period of stability by any Ghanaian government.
All coup attempts against the Rawlings regime were foiled. The Gagbladza (the cockroach) was a super listener on the grounds and detected potential threats.
Rumors filled the air with fear anytime discussions are about “Captain KojoTsikata,” his watchful eyes, his ability to hear things from afar and his love for sandals.
Then came the transition of the PNDC from Military rule to democratic rule, and the need to form a political force.
There again, Kojo T was at work. He convinced the CPP elements who had issues with Dr. Hilla Liman and other politicians even from the UP tradition, to join the NDC machinery.
After two consecutive electoral victories, the Captain was in his residence relaxing, after seeing Jerry John Rawlings off at the Airport to attend some international assignments.
Then “konkron-konkonkrown” on GBC Radio, an announcement, a new National Security Coordinator had been appointed in the person of Mr. TotobiQuakye, Minister of Information.
He was directed to replace his former boss, the National Security Coordinator, with immediate effect.
Captain KojoTsikata (Rtd) couldn’t return to office even to pick his personal files.
Sources from the grapevine says the letter dismissing Gbagbladza was authorized by the Lady who occupied the “She Who Must Be Obeyed” position, whenever Rawlings was out of the country.
No son of man at the time could question ‘She Who Must Be Obeyed’ especially because she was expected to be nursing a long term Presidential ambitions and knew very well that the Captain could scuttle her political ambitions.
Since that day, KojoTsikata and Jerry John Rawlings never spoke to each other as brothers in the struggle.
Captain was a consumate gentleman with a disarming gaze and those young men he inspired and mentored say his abilities are incomparable.
Rest in peace
– Benjamin Essuman
Executive Director (SOLIDAIRE GHANA)