General News of Tuesday, 17 June 2014
A solemn memorial service was held at the Christ the King Church in Accra yesterday in remembrance of eight senior military officers who were executed in the heat of the 1979 Uprising.
There were no tears at the service, which was anchored on the theme: “Love, Forgiveness and Thanksgiving”.
List of generals
Among the generals were Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa, Ignatius K. Acheampong and F.W.K. Akuffo, all former military Heads of State.
The others were service commanders: Major General Robert E.A. Kotei (Chief of Army Staff), Air-Vice Marshall George Y. Boakye (Chief of Air Staff), Real Admiral Joy Amedume (Navy Commander), Major General E.K. Utuka (Border Guards Commander) and Colonel Roger J.A. Felli (Foreign Affairs Commissioner).
The event marked 35 years (June 16 to June 26, 1979) of the shooting of the eight senior military officers at the Teshie shooting range after what many now agree was a rather hurried trial.
The church auditorium was filled with worshippers clad in white, made up of family members, friends and well-wishers.
Overflowing worshippers sat under canopies outside.
Preaching the sermon, the Parish Priest of the Christ the King Catholic Church, Rev. Father Andrew Campbell, lauded the families of the deceased soldiers for taking the bold step to forgive.
“Forgiveness is not human. Revenge is human. Forgiveness is divine. The more we love, the more we forgive, and the more we forgive, the more we move forward,” he told the congregation, which included Ms Samia Nkrumah, the daughter of Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Chairperson of the Convention People’s Party (CPP).
Samia’s father was overthrown in a coup led by General Afrifa.
“People have hurt us, insulted us; many have hurt our hearts. It is hard to forgive and forget, but forgiveness is a decision. It is not a feeling or an emotion. Don’t ever say ‘I’ve forgiven but will never forget’,” Rev. Father Campbell advised.
The generals were tried on charges of corruption, abuse of power and treason by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, led by Flight Lt J.J. Rawlings.
The remains of the eight military officers were exhumed in 2001 from unmarked graves near Nsawam and reburied following a petition from their widows to have their bodies handed over to them.
The nation has been divided over the execution. While some contend that the action was to curtail the anger of the nation, others believe that the shootings were carried out because of seeming hatred.
Children of deceased
Thirty-five years on, the children of the eight soldiers, led by Mr Francis Felli, Colonel Felli’s son, said the service was “a channel to demonstrate our love for all men, to forgive as the Lord has commanded us to do and give thanks to our Lord who has shepherded and protected us all these 35 years”.
Recalling the events of 1979, Mr Felli, who was surrounded by more than 20 children of the eight senior military officers, said, “35 years ago, under circumstances that are still despicable, our fathers, all eight of them, were taken away from us.”
He, however, stated that the service was apolitical and non-partisan and asked that nobody read politics into the event.
That notwithstanding, there were New Patriotic Party (NPP) gurus at the service, including its 2012 presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo; the immediate past Chairman, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, and Dr Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe, a leading member of the party.