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Chemogoh Kevin Dzang

Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Nandom, Ghana
Date of Death:

Rear Admiral Chemogoh Kevin Dzang MSG (27 July 1941 — 29 December 2009) was born at Nandom in the Upper West Region of Ghana. He is a retired naval officer and a former Chief of Naval Staff of the Ghana Navy.

He also served Ghana as a Secretary of State for Defence and an ambassador to Japan with concurrent accreditations to the Commonwealth of Australia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand.

Early life and education

Born at Nandom in the Lawra-Nandom district of the Upper West Region of Ghana, Dzang was educated at the Nandom Local Authority Primary School from 1948 to 1953 and the Lawra Middle School from 1954 to 1955. Having passed the Common Entrance Examination, he was admitted to the Government Secondary School at Tamale from 1956 to 1960.

After the General Certificate of Examination in less than five years, he opted to join the Ghana Armed Forces (Navy) rather than continue to the sixth form for which he was well qualified and given admission to pursue Science at the same Government Secondary School in Tamale.

In a highly competitive selection process, Dzang entered the Ghana Military Academy as an Officer Cadet in September 1960. While in the academy, he was confirmed a Naval Cadet and proceeded to the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in South Devon, United Kingdom, in August 1961.

Along with six other Ghanaian cadets, Dzang joined the British and other Commonwealth naval cadets for comprehensive training, starting as naval cadets to midshipmen at sea and acting sub-lieutenants.

Dzang graduated from Dartmouth in 1964 and returned to Ghana for deployment within the Ghana Armed Forces.

Appointments and command history

His first appointment was to GNS Afadzato as first lieutenant and second-in-command. The ship immediately sailed for refit in Gibraltar in the company of GNS Yogaga. Both vessels were inshore minesweepers and the passage was epoch-breaking, eventful, and uncomfortable.

In the end, however, both officers and men discovered their ‘sea legs’ and developed indomitable confidence to face challenges at sea.

While the vessels were refitting in Gibraltar, Dzang was appointed to GNS Achimota for the passage from Southampton to Ghana, with secondary duties as the navigational officer.

After docking in Tema, Ghana, Dzang was flown back to Gibraltar to rejoin GNS Afadzato for the return passage to Ghana after the refit. Apart from the anxiety of the crew to return home to their loved ones and friends, the passage itself was smooth and uneventful.

A few months after the vessels’ return to Ghana, Dzang was promoted to lieutenant and given command of GNS Afadzato in 1965.

Soon after assuming command, the coup d‘état of February 1966 took place. By the terms and conditions of service of the expatriate British Joint Services Training Team (BJSTT), no British personnel were to be involved in duties associated with the coup in Ghana.

It was therefore the added responsibility of ships commanded by Ghanaian naval officers to undertake all patrol duties at sea and protect the territorial sovereignty of Ghana. When the dust settled, Dzang was appointed the training officer at the Takoradi Naval Base in 1967. In 1968, he was given additional duties as the base administrative officer.

With the BJSTT not in full control because of the military government, the Navy, in particular, was in dire shortage of experienced senior personnel. The substantive Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Navy Commander, Rear Admiral David Hanson, had also been relieved of his duties and appointed defence advisor to the High Commission in London.

Air Marshall M.A. Otu, the Chief of Air Staff, was appointed Acting Chief of Naval Staff as well, while Commodore Krishnan of the Indian Navy was commissioned to review the Ghana Navy.

With a Ghanaian-Indian supporting staff, Krishnan’s mandate included assessing the personnel situation in order to “Ghanaianise” the top jobs and afford senior Ghanaian Officers the opportunity to perform these top administrative jobs. He was also to review the Navy fleet and recommend appropriate vessels for acquisition.

The government accepted most of his recommendations and seven of the most senior executive officers were selected for these senior appointments ashore and at sea in rotation so that a suitable candidate would emerge for appointment as Chief of Naval Staff and Navy Commander.

Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Navy Commander

Meanwhile, Commodore P.F. Quaye was transferred from the Army to become the Chief of Naval Staff in 1968. At the end of the exercise, Dzang was selected in 1972, while he was at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington India.

On his return he was promoted to the rank of naval captain and appointed the substantive Chief of Naval Staff and Navy Commander. Dzang was thus the first Dartmouth-trained executive naval officer to assume substantive command of the Ghana Navy and as the Chief of Naval Staff.

Quaye had then left the post on terminal leave, while Commander Amedume acted for him pending the arrival of Dzang, the substantive Chief of Naval Staff.

Rear Admiral Hansen had acquired many ships for the Navy while he was CNS. Quaye had also ordered two fast patrol boats, which were under construction by Christof Rutorf in a German shipyard at Mainz Kastel.

Many of the vessels in the fleet were now very old and needed refitting. As usual, the necessary funds were not available, and so the ships on the inventory were not seaworthy.

The immediate problem confronting the new CNS was to refurbish and refit the ships to make them seaworthy, to efficiently perform the Navy’s role at sea. There was equally a pressing need for serious sea training for all ranks so that both Officers and Men would rediscover their “sea legs” and love of the sea.

Two corvettes, which were in very bad condition, were the first to be sent to Vosper Thorny croft in the United Kingdom for refit. Local refits were also carried out on the Seaward Defence Boats. The Tema Dry Dock and the Naval Ship Yard in Sekondi were upgraded for future local refits.

The requisite technical personnel were recruited and trained locally and overseas to meet the daunting task of keeping the small fleet of ships seaworthy. In addition, the new CNS oversaw the completion of the building of the new ships in Germany and commissioned them into the fleet as GNS Sahene and GNS Dela.

Four more ships designed specifically for the Ghana Navy were also under construction by Luessen Shipyard in Germany. By the time the four ships were delivered, Dzang had left the Navy but the vessels were taken into inventory and commissioned as GNS Achimota, GNS Yogaga, GNS Sibo and GNS Gyata.

To date these four vessels from Luessen Shipyard constitute the core of the ageing Navy Fleet.

While the Ghana Navy was being revamped under his command, Dzang proceeded to the US Naval War College in Rhode Island in 1974 to broaden his knowledge in naval, military, national and international matters, in order to enhance the efficient discharge of duties as Chief of Naval Staff and the Navy Commander.

In his absence, the chief staff officer, Commander George Bedu Addo, acted for him. Dzang resumed duties on his return to Ghana in August 1975. By October 1975, the national political situation demanded that the service chiefs assumed the added responsibility of running the Government of Ghana as members of the Supreme Military Council (SMC).

The National Redemption Council (NRC), which comprised middle-rank officers, had run into several difficulties and in a palace reassessment, it was decided that the ultimate authority should emanate from the top of the military hierarchy.

In the event, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), service commanders of the Army, Navy, Air force, Border Guards and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) were appointed to the Supreme Military Council Government with General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong as the chairman of the council and Head of State.

The additional responsibility exposed the service commanders to domestic and international politics, in addition to the ineluctable enmity and sabotage of Politics.

Retirement from the navy

The Head of State, with the concurrence of colleagues in the SMC, delegated the Chief of Naval Staff, as chairman of the Military Advisory Council (MAC). The successful discharge of responsibilities under this highly sensitive position of trust required dedication and diplomacy.

It certainly was no mean task chairing a council of all the senior officers and those in active command positions in the armed forces. As the mandate was all-inclusive, MAC could therefore discuss any subject affecting the armed forces, the Government and Ghana in general, providing suggestions and advice to the SMC government.

As the chairman, the responsibility rested with Dzang to convey the advice and/or recommendations to the SMC, of which the Chief of Naval Staff was also a member – a duality which potentially put Dzang in a delicate situation. The bearer of bad news can sometimes be mistaken as bad news itself, exposing the bearer to the wrath of the recipients.

In due course, this dilemma befell the chairman of MAC, and he was promptly relieved of the duties of Chief of Naval Staff and Navy Commander, hence his membership of the SMC and as the chairman of MAC. For reasons of confidentiality, and pressed several times, Dzang declined further elaboration of this matter.

Dzang handed over his duties and went into farming to eke out a living. Fortunately, the “Operation Feed Your Self” policy of the military and the SMC was successful, and many hardworking Ghanaians were reaping successes in farming.

The first few years were difficult for a ‘salt horse’ from the Navy, but eventually, some good progress was made and life outside the armed forces was bearable.

Diplomatic career

Soon after the “honourable compulsory retirement” of Dzang, General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong offered him a job as Ghana’s High Commissioner to the Court of Saint James, United Kingdom, which was declined to owe to the unexplained circumstances leading to his removal from office.

A year later in 1978, Acheampong himself and SMC I was unseated and General Fred Akuffo, a former colleague of Dzang in SMC I, became the new Head of State and Chairman of SMC II. After SMC II came to power, Dzang was again contacted to take up office as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

Again the offer was not accepted at first, but upon persistent appeals, Dzang opted for the Commonwealth of Australia rather than the United Kingdom, with the hope that it would be difficult to secure an agreement since Ghana’s most eminent diplomat, Dr Ebenezer Kodjo Debrah, had only just been appointed to that country.

Somehow, the Government succeeded in granting his humble request by switching the posts. Thus, Dzang was appointed High Commissioner to the Commonwealth of Australia from 1978 to 1982, with concurrent accreditations to Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

The revolution and its aftermath

While at the post, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), under the chairmanship of Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, took over the reins of government in a bloody revolution on June 4, 1979, during which some members of SMC I and SMC II were executed by firing squad and other senior military officers sentenced to many years of imprisonment.

Life at the post during the Revolution was uncomfortable and pensive. The Staff at the High Commission pored through the occasional newspapers received from Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for any adverse information or otherwise about their boss who they knew was formerly a Member of SMC I.

Fortunately, the heady days of the AFRC were soon over and Dr Hilla Limann took over the reins of Government as the democratically elected civilian Head of State.

Dzang, therefore, remained at the post as Ghana’s High Commissioner to the Commonwealth of Australia, albeit through a very difficult period from the time of the SMC II government through the AFRC government and President Limann’s Government, to the early days of Chairman J.J. Rawlings’ Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).

The Limann Government had actually recalled Dzang for reassignment, but the new PNDC government held the recall in abeyance.

In February 1982, Dzang finally wound down business in Canberra, Australia, and returned to Ghana, and straight back to his rice farm in Kpalgini in the Northern Region, recording successes in rice farming for about three years before a recall to duty as Secretary for Defence in 1985.

It was a difficult tenure of office in the Defence Ministry because the relationship between the officers and the men was anything but cordial.

It required tactful handling through durbars to right the perceived wrongs and chart a new course away from the animosities and hatred of the past, to a new one commensurate with, and necessary for disciplined services established to defend the country through thick and thin. Dzang’s diplomacy would serve him well in this capacity.

Progress was slow but successful. At Dzang’s own request, the PNDC government released him to return to the farming venture, which was going through difficult times due to changes in government policy.

Acheampong and SMC I had drastically subsidized farming inputs and encouraged everyone to go into farming if they so desired. Civil Servants and Service personnel were encouraged to have backyard farms/gardens.

The World Bank, however, managed to convince the PNDC government and coerced policymakers to withdraw the subsidies on inputs like fertilizer, making it expensive and difficult for the poor village farmer to continue in farming ventures profitably.

With the policy change, the rice farming industry collapsed and those farmers who failed to recognize the downward spiral in earnings, following poor record-keeping, discovered the worsening situation only too late and thus went bankrupt.

Kedge Resources, the vehicle on which Dzang conducted his farming, noticed the warning signs and scaled-down involvement in rice farming in particular while emphasizing other areas that did not depend too much on government subsidies.

In 1994, the NDC government again offered Dzang ambassadorial assignment to Japan. The offer was eventually accepted and from 1994 to 1998, he served as Ghana’s Ambassador to Japan with concurrent accreditations to the Commonwealth of Australia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand.

During his tour of duty to Japan, high-level official visits were made by President J.J. Rawlings to Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and of course Japan in 1997.

Dzang finally retired from public service in 1998 and became self-employed with interests in traditional royal matters bequeathed to him by his forebears in the Nandom area.


Dzang was married to Emelia (Kpinbo) Dzang. They had three children called Julian Walier Dzang, Prospera Sorviel (Dzang) Tedam and Benjamin Dzang.


Dzang died in December 2009 following illness. He was buried on 26 February 2010 at Nandom./

Training and appointments

Ghana Military Academy, Teshie Accra 1960–1961

Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth 1961–1964

1st Lieutenant GNS AFADZATO 1964–1965

Commanding Officer GNS AFADZATO 1965–1967

Training Officer Naval Base, Takoradi 1967–1968

Base Administrative Officer 1967

1st Lieutenant GNS EJURA 1968

Commanding officer GNS EJURA 1968

Senior Officer Coastal Squadron (SOCS) 1968

Director Personnel & Administration Navy Headquarters 1969–1970

Commanding Officer GNS KETA 1971–1972

Senior Officer Afloat, Ghana Navy Fleet (SOA) 1971–1972

Acting Naval Officer In Charge (NOIC) Takoradi 1971

Defence Services Staff College Wellington, India 1972

Chief of Naval Staff and Navy Commander 1973–1974

United States Naval War College Newport, Rhode Island. 1974–1975

Chief of Naval Staff And Navy Commander 1975–1977

Member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC I) 1975–1977

High Commissioner to the Commonwealth of Australia. 1978–1982

PNDC Secretary of State For Defence 1985–1986

Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary to Japan 1994–1998

Honours and awards

Ghana Military Academy Intake 2, Teshie Accra 1960 - 1961

Graduate of the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth 1964

Certificate of Service as Master Mariner 1968

Defence Services Staff College. Wellington India ‘PSC’ Pass Staff College. - 1972

US Naval War College. MSc Military Studies 1975

ORDRE NATIONALE, Grand Officer Republic of Guinea 1976

Member of the Star of Ghana ‘MSG’ 1978

Graduate Diploma in International Law, Australian National University. 1981

Soka University, Japan – Highest Honour. 1997

Honorary naming of a speedboat by the Ghana Navy after Rear Admiral C.K Dzang 27 Oct 2008