In the past few weeks, two friends of mine, each with a big and distinguished title, launched their autobiographies.
These two men have never met, and on the surface, belong to two completely different professions, and yet they converge
and reinforce each other within Ghana’s dwindling sphere of the public intellectuals.
It is from that perspective that the two authors and their books should be of interest to the Ghana nation.
I present to you Brigadier General Daniel Frimpong (retired) and Professor Kwesi Yankah (retired?).
Both of these gentlemen have served Ghana with distinction, and their two book launches were more than the
events as advertised.
In both instances, we celebrated more than books. The distinguished respective audiences turned these events into precision) that the celebrated General spent in the colours of the Ghana Armed Forces.
He was commissioned as an Armoured Reconnaissance (Recce) officer in 1973 after his cadet training in Ghana and Canada.
He retired in 2014 as the Deputy Commandant of the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College.
He commanded the Ghana Military Academy from 1998 and 2002 and was Ghana’s first Military Advisor at the Permanent Mission of Ghana to the United Nations from 2002 to 2006.
Between 2008 and 2009, he served in Uganda as the UN’s Senior Military Advisor to former Mozambique President Joachim
Chissano who was the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Lord’s Resistance Affected Areas of Uganda, DRC,
South Sudan, and Central African Republic.
The above is a severe resume of the General’s career that could be contained in the brief space of the blurb at the back of
In truth, his academic, professional and military CV could fill a sizable portion of this newspaper, and would still hold readers
From his earliest days in the military until his retirement, the General participated in several peacekeeping assignments
around the globe’s trouble spots and regales the reader with some unforgettable tales he gathered along the way.
Equally compelling are the many stories related to his academic exploits because General Frimpong’s military career
also included many opportunities not only to study but also to teach.
Interestingly, even in retirement, he has been as busy as he was in uniform; and most of what he does now is the result of the experiences and knowledge he acquired in the military.
For example, in 2017, he was appointed the CEO of the African Peace Support Trainers Association in Kenya, and he is currently the Chairman of the Council of the Family Health University College, which is Ghana’s premier private medical
Now, coming to Professor Kwesi Yankah, we encounter another person who has spent his entire adult life in the service of the country as an academic, administrator, scholar, public servant and a politician.
His book is titled The Pen at Risk, which is a tribute to the Prof’s age-long engagement in public discourse, often sailing close
to dangerous waters during military regimes celebratory moments to honour the contributions of both men.
Brigadier General Dan Frimpong’s book is appropriately titled The Military My Life.
Its subtitle captures the essence of the book: 43 Years- 5 Months- 25 days. That is the exact period, (calculated with military.
His book’s subtitle is Spilling My Little Beans. It turns out to be a whole bag of beans!
Professor Yankah was professor of linguistics and oral literature specialising in the ethnography of communications.
He has served as the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana and the President of the Central
The author of several books, he was inducted as a fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999.
He held several positions in the university, where he was dean of students as well as dean of the Faculty of Arts
and head of the Linguistics Department.
His last position at the university was that of Pro-Vice Chancellor for academic and student affairs.
From September 2011 to 2017, he was the President of the Central University. In March 2017, he was appointed a Minister of State at the Ministry of Education.
For most people, Professor Yankah is known for his many contributions to newspapers, usually through his popular
columns such as Abonsam Fireman in the Catholic Standard and Woes of a Kwatriot in The Mirror.
Prof. Yankah has been a Senior External Advisor, Centre for Local Strategies Research, University of Washington, and a Member of the Policy Working Group, the African Presidential Archives and Research Centre, Boston University.
In 1999, he was elected Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in Accra.
He served a three-year term as the Honorary Secretary of the academy from 2003.
I have struggled to contain the brilliant lives and careers of both men in these few paragraphs but they should demonstrate to readers that they both have dedicated their entire lives in the service of Ghana.
However, unlike many people who have served alongside these men in their previous endeavours, these two have been part of a cohort, usually described as public intellectuals.
They have not been content to simply do what they were paid for, illustrious as that would be in themselves.
After his stint in politics, Professor Yankah has found new audiences through his social media interactions where he constantly regales readers with his incisive wit and insights. General Frimpong has written a column in the Daily Graphic for
the past seven years (page 10 on Fridays), and lectures frequently at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training
Centre, GIMPA, and the Legon Centre for International Affairs.
Their books are full of episodes, events and anecdotes that together tell an interesting history of our country from the
Incidentally, both men are in their early 70s and came of age around the same time.
Although they scaled the greasy poles of completely different professions, their passions emanated from the same wellsprings of patriotism and commitment to their country and its future.
These are books that must be read because they are relevant to our times, but equally importantly, they are enjoyable.
Both books were published by DigiBooks and are available at all leading bookshops across the country.