The year was 1974. I was a first year Law student at University of Ghana Law faculty.
Early one morning two senior lecturers walked into the Lecture hall Professor Akilagkpa Sawyerr, who later became Vice Chancellor of the University, and Dr. S.K. Date-Baah who later became a Justice of the Supreme Court.
For ten minutes, Prof. Sawyer gave us a short talk on the need to do “foot notes” in our write ups: He said for a good academic write up, you need to give a proof or a source of your authority, so for example if you say that “Yaw was a great dictator” show the footnote, that “source: Prof Basil Davidson published work, 1966 vol. 3 page 741” We all clapped for him, very scholarly precise presentation. Footnotes are very important.
After him, Dr. S. K. Date-Baah took the podium. He started by saying straight away: I disagree entirely with all that Professor Sawyer … He said: “What you need to do in your write ups is to give solid cogent evidence for instance, Yaw, as a leader, built hospitals, roads, universities, improved the lives of his people and he was a great leader. Period. No need for any footnotes.
Young as I was fresh student in the university, I could not understand these two famous lecturers – one says this, the other says that and which of them is right?
The topical news item today is the death of Captain Kojo Tsikata. Fortunately he died at dawn on Saturday, and the next day was Sunday, so all the print media first reported the passing of Tsikata in their Monday issues.
I remembered the Aki Sawyer – Date-Baah presentation as I read the very interesting varied reportage of the news in the various newspapers.
From the NDC – friendly “ Herald” we read that Captain Kojo Tsikata was educated in Achimota School and was trained as an officer in Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst where he collected top prize.
He was an officer and a gentleman, a hero, member of the Council of State and won the highest award of Angola. No doubt – he will be fondly remembered.
The NPP – friendly Daily Guide gave a different report.
Captain Kojo Tsikata was the security capo of the PNDC era, and he was involved in the murder of the High Court Judges and the retired army officer. Tsikata turned down an award by J.A. Kufour but accepted honors from Angola Cuba and Libya.
Ha! ha! ha! Reader, history – whose history? Who is writing the history? For which audience? Aki Sawyer – Date-Baah revisited?
Personally, as Nkrabeah Effah Dartey, I saw the man physically only FOUR times: the first time was at the Gondar Barracks in the very early days of the PNDC Revolution – I think the second day or so he just came out of his Peugeot 504 car, saw me, in uniform, I saluted, and he said “Young man, I will find something for you to do………….”
Honestly I did not understand him. You ‘find something for me to do? What is your relationship with our coup? I was to learn better later.
The second time I saw him personally was when he drove his Peugeot 504 car to Arakan Barracks officer’s mess. The third time was when he visited the office of National Investigations Committee where I was working as Member Secretary and the last time I saw him was at Major Agbenoto’s funeral somewhere in Volta Region when I was the MP for Berekum.
So, reader, writing impartially as a historian, who was Captain Kojo Tsikata?
Born Circa 1936 he was educated in Achimota School, joined the Army and was sent for training at the British Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
He saw action under UN in Congo to help defend Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and was also at Angola.
He had it tough surviving under the Military regime of Col. Acheampong and was tried for subversion: He was seen as a security risk by 3rd Republican Administration of President Limann and he became literally the persona of the PNDC regime. He died at the ripe old age of 85.
For me, the biggest unresolved controversy about the life of Captain Kojo Tsikata was the murder of the 3 High Court Judges and the retired army officer.
When the three High Court Judges ware murdered the rumors were a thousand for a penny. It was alleged for instance that one of the judges gave a ruling against Captain Kojo Tsikata that the BNI can continue doing open surveillance on him, and that the retired Army officer was head of Military Intelligence who recommended that he should be summarily retired from the Army.
When the special investigations board chaired by retired Chief Justice S.A. Azu Crabbe submitted their Report, they recommended that Captain Tsikata should be arrested and tried for the murder of the Judges, but the PNDC published a White paper isolating Captain Tsikata.
I was then an Army officer and I privately told myself that for the sake of posterity even assuming for argument only that Captain Tsikata was really involved, they were in power, and the judiciary was under their thumb, let Tsikata face the law and be acquitted and discharged and that will forever settle the matter judicially.
Now, apart from Tsikata, all those recommended for arrest and trial were dealt with, but the rumor and suspicion continued.
When NPP took power and set up the National Reconciliation Commission, Captain Tsikata had to appear before them to speak so many words in his defence, to say that he was innocent.
Now the man is gone. But the debate continues. Was he truly involved or not in the murder of the three judges and retired Army officer?
I am told that when I was arrested by the PNDC on 27th May 1983, and subsequently detained by them for six months at Nsawam, Captain Kojo Tsikata gave specific orders that nobody should touch me or torture me.
And that is exactly what happened.
Like him, I was also at Achimota School and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. We are both AKORAS.
History, History. Whose history?
Written by Nkrabeah Effah Dartey