From fisherman to Chief of Defense Staff: Story of Brigadier General Nunoo-Mensah

General News of Thursday, 22 March 2018

Source: Frank Owusu-Ofori


Former Chief of Defense Staff, Brig. Gen. Nunoo-Mensah

Former Chief of Defense Staff, Brig. Gen. Nunoo-Mensah has described his transformation from a mere fisherman in Winneba to holding one of the highest positions in the Ghana army and government respectively as pure divine intervention from God.

Sharing his childhood story on ‘Conversation with Mike Eghan’ on Eezy 107.5, Gen Nunoo-Mensah, said it was sheer coincidence that he attended school.

Among his siblings of four males, he is the only one who is educated because, according to him, at Winneba,

“Education in those days was not attractive because children preferred going fishing to earn a living than attending school.

“I was fishing before I went to school and that was my first profession because I lived amongst fishermen in those days in Winneba.

“Education was far away from us; I lived about fifty metres from the sea and all I knew was how to fish so that was the life that I started with”.

According to him, he doesn’t know the day he was born because fishermen at the time didn’t record the birth dates of their children.

Asked what attracted him to get some education, Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah replied saying many of his friends had disappeared into schools and he was without friends.

“When the old man came back from his errands one day, I said to him no more fishing, I want to go back to school and that was a novelty because nobody went to school.

“He was perplexed but again the way the European ran our institutions was fantastic”.

Brigadier Mensah also revealed on the Mike Eghan show that he was the first member of his clan to have education at that time.

Asked whether he had any dreams of what he wanted to do as an adult, he replied in the negative

“The idea was just go to school, put your cloth around your neck and tie and with your slate under your armpit, he said.

“From 1951 I had to go to this school at Agona Nsaba, fifteen miles from Agona Swedru which was a fantastic and tough school, for the first time in my life at the age of thirteen and that was when I began to grow as a human being and be like a man.

“I still didn’t have an idea what I wanted to be, just have some education and let’s see what happens but what I wanted to be came to me later.

“In 1945, after the war, the Winneba secondary school where now you have the south campus of the University of Education was where the Winneba secondary school actually was, but before, it was a military camp for those returning from war from Burma and Europe.

It was when I began to like military life because it was quite beautiful so maybe that’s where my future dream of becoming a soldier started from.

“I like the way they were dressed, they were very smart and soldiers were very fantastic.

“Nobody thought the army was a job for us, so if you were going into the army you don’t tell your parents.

“It was when I was in the academy that they got to know but if I had told my mother, she wouldn’t have allowed me, he added”.

Brigadier Nunoo Mensah enlisted into the Ghana Army in October 1960 and started training at the Ghana Military Academy.

Midway through the training, he was selected to continue his training at the prestigious Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, England, where he graduated in 1963 as the Best Overseas Officer Cadet of his intake and awarded the Military Cane of Honour.

On his return after the two-year training, he served in various positions in the military, rising to become the Chief of Defence Staff on two separate occasions.

He was a member of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) government which came to power on December 31, 1981 but resigned in 1982 and spent the following 10 years in England with his family.

He is married to Mrs Margaret Nunoo-Mensah, Proprietress of Premier Florist at Danquah Circle in Accra. They have three children.

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