Saturday 18 December 2021

Akwasi Afrifa's Letter to Ignatius Acheampong, 1977

Brigadier Akwasi Afrifa taking the oath as one of the three-man Presidential Commission appointed at the time of the handover to the civilian administration led by Dr. Kofi Busia

December 18th, 1977: Retired Lt. General Akwasi Afrifa's Letter to General Ignatius Acheampong, Ghana's military Head of State in which Afrifa spoke of his fears about the future of the country and a concern that the dwindling reputation of the military might lead to a situation where to discourage future military interventions, both men and others could be lined up and shot "one by one".

Afrifa's letter to Acheampong:

Personal and Confidential

Okatakyie Farms

P.O. Box 89,


18th December 1977

My Dear General and Friend,

When I write to you since you came into office, I do not receive any acknowledgment. I would normally not write again, but this is a matter that touches on my life and the lives of a few others.

I feel greatly disturbed about the future after your government. I have heard from certain quarters of the C.P.P. threats, which they will execute after 1979. In other to discourage the military from staging coups in the future, how about if they line us all of us up and shoot us one by one? Then they would disband the Ghana Army; but I do not certainly want to be arrested, given some sort of trial and shot. These are my genuine fears. All members of the N.L.C. including General Joseph Ankrah, are involved. I still have no regrets whatsoever about my part in the operations of 1966.

My fears increase when I look at the Koranteng-Addo Report as a whole. I do not like the Union Government as proposed in their report. The political forces militating against it are too strong.

I wish very sincerely to let you know that I am worried about the future. So many hard and unpleasant things were said about me by the people of this country when they had the opportunity, the very people who hailed me in 1966. Consequently, I decided that politics would be the last thing that I would do in my life. But I would be a stupid General if I would sit in the comfort of my farms to await the VENGEANCE that is about to be unleashed on us.

I do not see how I can be SECURE in the Union Government. I do not also see how you yourself can be secure in that government. What Koranteng-Addo has said is this: If a soldier wants to join this government, then let him take a leave of absence from the Armed Forces. You are a soldier and you will see what happens as soon as you take this leave. Have you forgotten that they made me sign the 1966 Constitution that disqualified me on the grounds of AGE?

I have decided to be in the next Parliament in 1979 to protect myself and those who were associated with the 1966 coup. The danger is that independent individuals in Parliament under Union Government will almost immediately constitute themselves into a political group; so the political parties law will be enacted for the trial of soldiers who have made coups.

My dear brother and friend these are my fears. So far you have protected all of us including John Harlley. I have been very happy on my farms, and I have been very quiet. I had hoped that when you decide to return the country to civilian rule, you would seek my views in confidence since I have done it before and been in prison after that.

But the Almighty God is the supreme ruler of all. Let us pray for Him without ceasing. He alone gives perfect protection. I will pray to Him to take away the fear and the confusion weighing on my mind now.

I wish you a happy Christmas.

Yours Sincerely,

Akwasi (SGD).


Both Afrifa and Acheampong were executed by firing squad in 1979 during the purge which followed the June 4 Uprising by junior members of the Ghanaian Armed Forces. Acheampong was shot on June 16 and Afrifa on the 26th. Their death sentences were sanctioned by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) which was chaired by Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings.

My essays on both men:

Afrifa: An Appraisal of Ghana's One Time Military Ruler (2019)

The Tragedy of Ignatius Acheampong: Visionary and Kleptocrat (2020)

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021)

Adeyinka Makinde is based in London, England. He has a keen interest in history and geopolitics.

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