Lieutenant General Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka was a member of the ruling National Liberation Council which came to power in Ghana in a military coup d’état on 24 February 1966. This overthrew the government of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of the republic.
Emmanuel Kotoka was born at Alakple, a village in the Keta district of the Volta Region of the Gold Coast (British colony). He completed his basic education at the Alakple Roman Catholic School and later the Anloga Senior School in 1941. He started training as a goldsmith but switched to a career in the military.
In 1965, the then Lieutenant-Colonel Kotoka was transferred to Kumasi where he met and became friends with then Major Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa, an officer in the Second Brigade of the Ghana army. The two are generally credited with being among the key conspirators behind the first bloody coup d’état in Ghana on 24 February 1966 which brought an end to the first republic. They codenamed it “Operation Cold Chop”. It was Kotoka who announced the coup to the nation early that morning from the Broadcasting House of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, the official radio station in Ghana. The Central Intelligence Agency appears to have been aware about the plotting of the coup at least a year ahead. Kotoka was promoted Major General and became a member of the ruling National Liberation Council and also the Commissioner for Ministry of Health as well as General Officer Commanding the Ghana Armed Forces.
At first he started training as a goldsmith but later switched to a career in the military. Kotoka enlisted as a private in the Infantry School of the Gold Coast Regiment at Teshie in Accra in July 1947. One of Ghanaian national heroes, the Ghana International Airport was renamed Kotoka International Airport in his memory. More so because he was killed at a spot which is now part of the courtyard of the airport and his statue stands at that point.