About two or so years ago, a Ghanaian reader of my columns E-mailed me to bitterly complain that I appeared to have comfortably given a virtual pass, as it were, to Major (Rtd.) Courage Emmanuel Kobla Quashigah, for his allegedly untold atrocities against his fellow Ghanaian citizens as a
staunch member and senior operative of both the erstwhile Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC). The critic went on to vehemently decry what he perceived to be my abject hypocrisy, on the quite understandable, but not necessarily agreeable, grounds that while I blindly and inexorably heaped encomiums on Major Quashigah, as both minister of Agriculture and later Health, under the Kufuor administration of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), I furiously and incessantly continued to unleash torrents of intemperate tirades against Mr. Rawlings. The critic also claimed Major Courage Quashigah to have been far more dangerous than Flt.-Lt. Rawlings.
In a riposte to the critic, I tersely observed that what made any untold atrocities committed against the Ghanaian public on the part of Major Quashigah forgivable, was largely on grounds of the fact of the accused and former AFRC cabinet member and PNDC Chief Operations Officer (COO) having incontrovertibly, constructively and admirably transformed himself into a legitimate national leader who was fast on his way to bequeathing a salutary legacy of statesmanship to both his countrymen and women.
Needless to say, in making the foregoing observation, I had squarely etched in mind the vintage Biblical scripture of Isaiah 2:4. In the latter chapter and verse, the celebrated and immortalized ancient Hebrew prophet predicts the ultimate reign and triumph of tranquility and justice over chaos and mayhem on Earth: Ã¢â‚¬Å“He [the returned Redeemer] will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.Ã¢â‚¬Â
On the other hand, I observed to my reader-critic that while, indeed, a formerly wayward Major Quashigah had meteorically transcended his quite significant share of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“revolutionary crimesÃ¢â‚¬Â of yesteryear, Mr. Rawlings, the brassily self-appointed Ã¢â‚¬Å“revolutionary missionaryÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“housecleaningÃ¢â‚¬Â defender-protector of the poor and destitute, against the powerful and pathologically venal, continued to impenitently behave like a proverbial schoolyard bully on the Ghanaian political landscape.
In hindsight, it appears that I had unknowingly been eerily prophetic in my take on Mr. Rawlings, as in recent days even his staunchest minions, including, most notably, Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia (a. k. a. Ã¢â‚¬Å“General MosquitoÃ¢â‚¬Â), general-secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), have not only begun to publicly distance themselves from the Rawlingses, but have also begun to vehemently decry what these otherwise brazen party hacks perceive to be the luridly unsavory proprietary usurpation of the functional legitimacy of the so-called National Democratic Congress.
That he transitioned in Israel, where the former New Patriotic Party cabinet member had been invited to participate in a series of lectures titled Ã¢â‚¬Å“Enlightened Speakers Series,Ã¢â‚¬Â bespeaks of the global reach and depth of his statesmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stature. As GhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s health minister, Major Quashigah vigorously campaigned against our morbidly untoward culture of funereal extravagance, instead emphasizing the imperative need for the rapid enhancement of both personal hygiene and the delivery of our community health services. Needless to say, Major Quashigah was the unsung hero behind the NPP-enacted comprehensive National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), an unquestionably progressive policy that the now-ruling National Democratic Congress, led almost singularly by Vice-President John Mahama, cynically dismissed as a chimerical hoax.
As a professional soldier, the Sandhurst-trained Major Courage Quashigah distinguished himself in the critical disciplines of Economics, War and Communications Studies; he would also receive many citations, awards and professional commendations, including the Everand Award for Oratory and Presentation at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College; Distinguished Honor Graduate Ranger at the United States Military Academy; and the Cane and Certificate of Honor, Best Overseas Cadet at the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst.
In condoling with the family, relatives, friends and associates of Major Courage Emmanuel Kobla Quashigah, it is fervidly hoped that Ghanaian youths would emulate his glaringly evident diligence and dedication to the service of his country, in particular, and to his fellow humans, in general. By the same token, it is also hoped that Providence would have mercy on our kinsman and fellow citizen where he might woefully have fallen short as a fallible mortal.
At 62, Major Quashigah was just beginning to enter the glorious realm of both elderly statesmanship and senior citizenship. Alas, these were not to be! But that he will be sorely missed by all across both political and cultural divides, can hardly be gainsaid. So long, good soldier and dear countryman! I salute your honesty and integrity! Go peacefully homeward to the maker of your fortunes and destiny!
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI), the pro-democracy think tank, and the author of 21 books, including Ã¢â‚¬Å“Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern GhanaÃ¢â‚¬Â (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: [email protected]