The Death Of Captain (Retired) Kojo Tsikata Is A Big Blow To Pan Africanism
On the morning of November 22, 2021, a sister of mine, Mrs. Lucia M. Yallah called and informed me that Captain (Rtd) Kojo Tsikata had passed away in Accra, Ghana. She asked if I knew Captain Tsikata. I told Lucia that I knew him very well, and was opportuned to meet him on four different occasions between 1986 up to October 1987.
To further verify the sad news, I contacted Senator Conmany B. Wesseh who confirmed Captain Tsikata’s death news. Senator Wesseh told me that he had already established contact with one of the Tsikatas, Prof. Fui Tsikata resident in Accra.
After the October 1985 Presidential and Legislative elections in Liberia, I left the country for exile in Ghana following my release, along with other colleagues, from detention at the then notorious maximum detention center at Bella Yalla. On orders of Samuel Doe, we spent a total of 10 months under harsh prison conditions on false and trumped-up charges.
By then, Mr. Conmany Wesseh himself was in exile in Ghana largely due to Mr. Samuel Doe’s visible attack on him. Mr. Wesseh was then head of the All Africa Student Union (AASU) based in Accra, Ghana. It was in early 1986 that Mr. Wesseh introduced me to Captain Kojo Tsikata along with his (Tsikata’s) deputy, Commander Assase Gyan, a former Ghanaian Navy Commander.
At the time, Captain Tsikata was an influential member of the Jerry Rawlings ruling Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), the governing council of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). As part of his duties, Captain Tsihata provided direct oversight of the Ghanaian security network. Though he had been retired from the Ghanaian Army with the rank of Captain, yet, he was popularly known as Captain Tsikata. I will refer to him as such.
Captain Tsikata was a very close friend of the late President Jerry Rawlings (of blessed memory) of Ghana. In a nutshell, Captain Tsikata was the right-hand-man of Head of State, Jerry J. Rawlings. He kept the Pan African Spirit alive in the Rawlings Government as I saw it. He must have been, I believe, a keen follower of the work and teaching of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the foremost Pan Africanist of our time. Under his leadership, Accra was considered the Mecca for progressive Africans and their allies around the globe.
Captain Tsikata had a commitment to the liberation of African countries from colonial rule. Probably inspired by the teachings of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Towards that end, he found himself at the side of his Angolan comrades and fought in the Angolan war of liberation as a volunteer soldier on the side of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) headed by the late Dr. Agostino Neto.
The Rawlings Government through Captain Tsikata embraced the work of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) for its advocacy and support to the liberation movements of Southern Africa as well as its struggle at the home front for economic and social justice and democracy. My stay in Ghana was encouraged by the love and care that was accorded me especially by the Tsikata family. He never at any time throughout the period of my interaction with him, convey not even the slightest impression of someone intoxicated with power like most people in similar position of power and authority. Above all, he lived a simple life style.
In October 1987, Captain Tsikata played a key role in my life. I had received a fellowship from the Netherlands based Institute of Social Studies(ISS) through Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh. My acceptance letter from the ISS arrived in Accra less than a week before the deadline of my enrollment.
I did not have a penny to process a Dutch visa let alone pay for a one way air ticket. I immediately thought of Captain Tsikata, and proceeded to the Castle, Osu. I explained my situation to Commander Assase Gyan. He went to the Captain and told him about my predicament. The Captain sent for me and asked for the price of a one way ticket to the Netherlands and the time that I was expected at the school. I provided answers to his questions.
Not only did Captain Tsikata provide money for the air ticket, he summoned a senior staffer from their Foreign Ministry and instructed him to ensure that from that Wednesday, he should do all he could to have me on a Saturday flight bound for Germany with connections to The Hague, The Netherlands. Everything, including a Dutch visa was processed in two days and I departed Accra on a Saturday through the VIP section of Kotoka International Airport.
Captain Tsikata’s role in Ghana’s participation in the ECOWAS Peace Keeping Mission in Liberia from 1990 to 1998 was critical, as Ghana was the second largest contributor of troops to the Peace Keeping Force, ECOMOG. He led Ghanaian delegations on numerous occasions to oversee ECOMOG Operations.
One important thing that Captain Tsikata and the late President Rawlings had in common was honesty. In short, both were corruption free officials of the Government they served. That explains why both of them lived in Ghana even after leaving government, and died there in dignity. With the enormous power that Captain Tsikata wielded in Ghana, if he had intended to amass huge wealth, he could have. I am not talking about “ill-gotten wealth.” He was a man with clean heart as manifested in the ways he related to his fellow human beings irrespective of one’s background.
The death of Captain Kojo Tsikata is a big loss to Africa, the Pan African Movement. He was a decorated African soldier who valued and defended the lives of his people. My deepest sympathies to Prof. Fui Tsikata, Tsatsu Tsikata and the extended family. As a faithful soldier, Captain Tsikata fought a good fight, he finished the race and kept the faith. May his soul rest in perpetual peace and God consoles his family.