Gen. J.A. Ankrah
Date of Birth: August 18, 1915
Time of Birth:
Place of Birth: Accra
Joseph Arthur Ankrah, born on August 18, 1915, was a distinguished Ghanaian army general, notable for his significant roles in both the military and political spheres. Serving as the head of state of Ghana from 1966 to 1969, he held the position of Chairman of the National Liberation Council, making history as Ghana's first military head of state. In addition to his political contributions, Ankrah was recognized for his leadership in the realm of sports.
Joseph Arthur Ankrah was born in Accra to Samuel Paul Cofie Ankrah and Beatrice Abashie Quaynor, notable figures in their community. His educational journey began at the Wesleyan Methodist School in Accra, and later he attended Accra Academy, where he not only excelled academically but also showcased his football skills. In 1937, he earned the Senior Cambridge School Certificate, leading to his entry into the Ghana Civil Service.
Ankrah's military service commenced in 1939 when he joined the Gold Coast Regiment. During World War II, he was mobilized into the Royal West African Frontier Force, demonstrating dedication and climbing the ranks. Achievements included being the first African officer in the Gold Coast Army and receiving a commission as a lieutenant in 1947. His service featured commanding an all-African company, receiving promotions, and displaying gallantry in the United Nations Operation in the Congo, where he earned the Military Cross.
Transitioning into politics, Ankrah was appointed the first commander of the Ghana Army in 1961. His political zenith came when he became the head of state and Chairman of the National Liberation Council following the February 24, 1966 coup. While he played a mediating role in the Nigerian Civil War in Biafra, a bribery scandal involving a Nigerian businessman led to his resignation.
Beyond his military and political roles, Ankrah served as the inaugural President of the Council of Patrons of Accra Hearts of Oak S.C., underscoring his commitment to sports leadership.
In 1965, Ankrah married his third wife, Mildred Christina Akosiwor Fugar, and had multiple wives with a total of 18 children. His family includes a daughter named Jackie Ankrah, recognized for her work as a broadcaster, songwriter, and musician.
Joseph Arthur Ankrah passed away on November 25, 1992, leaving behind a legacy marked by military accomplishments, political leadership, and significant contributions to sports in Ghana.