Why Burma Camp? – Asks Captain (rtd) Nkrabeah Effah Dartey

Let me begin this article by stating bluntly that I do not owe Lt General Obed Akwa, Chief of Defence Staff any apology for asking this question, and so I repeat, WHY BURMA CAMP?

I remember so well when early in life, on the dusty streets of remote Jinijini village I told my friends that “as for me I will be a lawyer in future.”

They reacted by saying “when you die they will bury you with your face downwards”.

I replied that after my death how you bury me is my back case. You can even make me to squat in the coffin!!!

I soon grew to find that it was not true, and that lawyers are buried in the normal fashion.

Then I became a soldier and fell in love with military burials….the music, the slow march, the Last Post, the 21 gun salute… but their cemetery!!!

For more than one hundred years, one acre of land next to Osu Public Cemetery was reserved for soldiers, and when General Quainoo was Force Commander, he organized a regal entrance to be built for the military cemetery.

And you know one thing about soldiers? The UNIFORM!!!

ENTER THE Military cemetery, and you will see only white signposts.

Even though they have meticulous well kept records of all soldiers buried there, on the surface there is no difference between the graves of Colonels, Sergeants and privates – every mark is the same.

The Military High Command decided that they needed a new location for their cemetery because the OSU one was full. They located a spot behind my old unit. 5BN, Arakan Barracks, and sometime this year 2018 they opened the new Military Cemetery, Burma Camp.

Then former Vice President Amissah Arthur died. For reasons not given to the General Public, our former Vice President who was not a soldier was buried at the Military Cemetery, Burma Camp.

Then JH Mensah, former senior Minister died. Maybe Vice President Amissah Arthur hobknobbed with the soldiers; in fact he even died in a military environment, but JH!!! He was a politician across fifty years of his life, never had anything to do with soldiers, and definitely is not a candidate for burial at the Military Cemetery.

So, why Burma Camp?

For me, the decision to bury JH Mensah at Burma Camp raises a very serious issue: how do we honour our national   heroes? By burying them at Burma Camp? I beg to differ.

Two very clear options come to the fore: either we buy or compulsorily acquire a new spot of land and develop it as National Heroes Acre, strictly reserved for only Parliament – approved National heroes, and place it under 24 hour ceremonial guard, as a tourist attraction, where wreaths will be laid by visiting Heads of State; OR we should develop the Asomdwee Park where President Mills lies alone in a neglected poorly maintained almost forgotten burial ground.

Either of these two options is okay by me, except  that I think  instead of continuously  bagging  state burial heroes in unmarked graves at Burma Camp , it will be very appreciable  to set aside  a special place where the youth and upcoming generations will see as a place of  national reverence.

When President Nkrumah died, a decision was taken to convert the old Polo ground,  t he spot where  he declared Independence on 6 March 1957 to be a one man cemetery. Later his wife Fathia was brought to lie next to him but essentially it remains Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park.

Instead of scouting around for land to buy or acquire, let us rather get Architects to do a fantastic job of converting President Mills Asomdwee Park into a National Heroes Acre, so that accomplished statesman top grade politicians can be sent there.

If and when somebody I know who lined up three former Heads of State and sprayed them with bullets kicks the bucket, will he be sent to Burma Camp or to lie near his former deputy?

By the way let me end with a chilling story.

In the 17th Century Oliver Cromwell led a Revolution in England. He got the King, Charles I arrested and tried and sentenced to death and his head was cut off by the executioner.

Two decades later, Cromwell died, and the monarchy was restored. The son of Charles I was crowned Charles II. He got all those who led the Revolution and killed his to be convicted tried and HANGED!!!  Oliver Cromwell’s dead body was exhumed from the grave and symbolically tried, convicted and symbolically HANGED!!!

No comment.

Post script: On Saturday 18 August, Ghana’s foremost statesman His Excellency Kofi Annan, former UN secretary General and a Royal of Akwamu died. Where will he be interred? Burma Camp – among Corporals and WOs? Or Asomdwee Park, near President Mills? On at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park ? Or the Royal Mausoleum at Akwamu??

Again, no comment.

Written By :Captain (rtd) Nkrabeah Effah Dartey

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