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Joseph Arthur Ankrah

Joseph Arthur Ankrah
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Lt. General Joseph A. Ankrah
2nd Head of state of Ghana
(First Military Head of state)
In office
24 February 1966 – 2 April 1969
Preceded by Kwame Nkrumah
Succeeded by Akwasi Afrifa
Personal details
Born 18 August 1915
Accra, Gold Coast
Died 25 November 1992(1992-11-25) (aged 77)
Accra, Ghana
Nationality Ghanaian
Political party military
Spouse(s) Mildred Christina Akosiwor Fugar (d.2005)
Profession Soldier
Religion Christian - Methodist
Military service
Service/branch Ghana Army
Years of service 1940 - 1969
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands Chief of the Defence Staff
Appointed after coup d'état of 24 February 1966

Chairperson of the Organisation of African Unity from 24 February to 5 November 1966.


  • Early life 1
  • Military career 2
  • Politics 3
  • Family 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Ankrah was born on 18 August 1915 in Accra to the Ga family of Samuel Paul Cofie Ankrah, an overseer for the Christian Missionary Society and Beatrice Abashie Quaynor, a trader.[1] Ankrah began his schooling in 1921 at the Wesleyan Methodist School in Accra, where his nickname was 'Ankrah Patapaa' for his "forcefulness in arguments and always playing leadership role among his mates".[1] In 1932, he entered Accra Academy, one of the leading secondary schools in Ghana, where he established himself as a good football player.[1] He obtained the Senior Cambridge School Certificate in 1937.[2] He then joined the Ghana Civil Service.[1]

Military career

On the outbreak of World War II, Ankrah was mobilized into the Royal West African Frontier Force .[2] While his Brigade was in East Africa in 1940, he was transferred to the Record Office in Accra with the rank of Warrant Officer Class II and made second-in-command.[1] In October 1946, he went to the Marshfield Officer Cadets Training Unit in the United Kingdom and graduated in February 1947 as the first African officer in the Gold Coast Army.[1] He was commissioned a lieutenant in 1947[2] and became the first African camp commandant at the Army Headquarters.[1] He was later made the first Ghanaian Chief Instructor of the Education Unit.[1] He was promoted Major in 1956 and became the first African to command an all-African company, the Charlie Company of the first Battalion at Tamale, Ghana. He later became Lieutenant Colonel and took over the whole battalion.[1] He rose to rank of colonel by 1960, at a time when there were few Ghanaian officers at that level.[2] During the United Nations Operation in the Congo, he was the Brigade Commander of the force based at Luluaburg, Kasai in present-day Democratic Republic of Congo. He was the only Ghanaian awarded the Military Cross in Leopoldville for acts of unsurpassed gallantry in Congo in 1961.[1] The citation read:

With great common sense, maturity and tact, this officer handled a delicate situation which otherwise would have created grave consequences in Leopoldville and many parts of the Congo. Colonel Ankrah, with complete disregard for his own life, disarmed an Armee Nationale Congolese (ANC) soldier who, with a loaded sten machine carbine, attempted to shoot Mr. Lumumba. He carried the Prime Minister to safety in a vehicle which was fired on by ANC ambushers. Had it not been for the quick and bold action of Colonel Ankrah at the risk of his life, Mr. Lumumba'’s life would have been taken with untold consequences at that time.[1]

After his experience in the Congo, he was rapidly promoted Brigadier then Major General[2] becoming the first Ghanaian commander of the Ghana army in 1961 and then Deputy Chief of Defence Staff.[2] He was dismissed from the Ghana army in July 1965[3] on suspicion of involvement in a coup plot.[1]


Ankrah became the head of the National Investment Bank after leaving the army. He however became the Head of state and Chairman of the National Liberation Council after the 24 February 1966 coup.[3] In January 1967, he mediated between the warring factions of the Nigerian civil war in Biafra.[4][5][6] He was forced to resign as Chairman of the NLC and Head of State over a bribery scandal involving a Nigerian businessman.[2][7]


In 1965 he married his third wife, Mildred Christina Akosiwor Fugar (12 June 1938 – 9 June 2005), in Accra.[8] His son also went to Accra Academy.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Former Leaders - Profiles:Lt-Gen Joeseph Arthur Ankrah". Official Website of The Osu Castle, seat of Ghana government. Ghana government. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Lt. General Joseph A. Ankrah". - Famous Ghanaians:Heads of state. Ghana Home Page. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  3. ^ a b Jon Kraus (April 1966). "Ghana Without Nkrumah - The Men In Charge". Africa Report. Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  4. ^ Donita Brown. "Nigeria-Biafra Civil War - Aburi Accord, Ghana -Transcript from the tape recordings of the Aburi Meeting, 5-7 January, 1967". Nigeria-Biafra Civil War. Philip Emeagwali. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  5. ^ Kirk-Greene, A. H. M. (1971). Crisis and Conflict in Nigeria January 1966-July 1967 (Vol. 1). A documentary sourcebook 1966-1970. London: Oxford University Press. 
  6. ^ Max Siollun. "ON ABURI WE STAND: NO NEED FOR A SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE". Niger Delta Congress. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  7. ^ "Our Leaders-LT. GENERAL JOSEPH A. ANKRAH". Official Website for the 50th Independence Anniversary Celebrations of Ghana. Ghana Government-(Ghana@50). Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  8. ^ "Wives of Military Rulers". GHANA, 50YRS OF NATIONHOOD. Graphic Communications Group Limited. 28 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 

External links

  • Ghana-pedia webpage - Lieutenant-General Joseph A. Ankrah
  • : The Fall Of Kwame NkrumahOperation Cold ChopGhana-pedia webpage -
Political offices
Preceded by
Kwame Nkrumah
Head of state of Ghana
Military regime

Succeeded by
Akwasi Afrifa
Preceded by
Alex Quaison-Sackey
Foreign Minister
Succeeded by
John Willie Kofi Harlley
Preceded by
Lt. Gen. E. K. Kotoka
Minister for Defence
1967 – 1969
Succeeded by
Maj. Gen. A. K. Ocran
Preceded by
Kwame Nkrumah
Chairperson of the Organization of African Unity
Succeeded by
Haile Selassie
Military offices
Preceded by
Henry Templer Alexander
Chief of Army Staff
1961 – 1962
Succeeded by
Major General S. J. A. Otu
Preceded by
Lt. Gen. E. K. Kotoka
Chief of the Defence Staff
1967 - 1968
Succeeded by
Air Marshall Michael A. Otu
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