Neville Alexander Odartey-Wellington

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Major General Neville Alexander Odartey-Wellington (1934–1979), former Chief of Army Staff, Ghana Armed Forces (1978–79), was a Ghana Army officer. He was a native of Osu, Accra, and died in action leading loyal troops against revolting forces during the 4 June 1979 coup d'état in Ghana.

Military career[edit]

Described as a “soldier’s soldier”,[1] Major General Odartey-Wellington was a graduate of Accra Academy in Ghana, and various military training institutions including the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), and the United States Army Infantry School (Fort Benning, Georgia). After being commissioned as an officer, he saw action in the Congo during the Congo Crisis, and also served in the Ghanaian UNIFIL contingent in the Middle East.

Under the National Redemption Council (NRC) and Supreme Military Council I (SMC I) governments led by General I.K. Acheampong, Odartey-Wellington served in various military command and civil administrative positions. He was Chief Executive of the Ghana Timber Marketing Board, Commissioner (Minister) of Health[2] and subsequently Commissioner of Agriculture [3] tasked with implementing Acheampong's nationalistic "Operation Feed Yourself" program, before reverting to the position of Commander, No. 1 Infantry Brigade Group in 1977,.[4] He is believed to have led the palace coup that removed General Acheampong as Head of State in July 1978.[5] In the reconstituted SMC regime or SMCII led by General F.W.K. Akuffo, Odartey-Wellington was promoted from brigadier to major general, and became Army Commander or Chief of Army Staff .[6][7]


The SMCII commenced the transition to multi-party democratic rule, but was itself overthrown in a bloody coup on June 4, 1979, during which Major General Odartey-Wellington was killed while leading loyal troops.[8][9] Although the coup was successful, he was buried with full military honours by the new regime at the Ghana Military Cemetery in Osu.[10] Major General Odartey-Wellington had previously foiled another coup on 15 May 1979. As Chief of Army Staff, Odartey-Wellington's death, coupled with the capitulation of Chief of Defence Staff Lieutenant General Joshua Hamidu, compromised the ability of the SMCII to resist the June 4th revolt.[11] His colleagues subsequently surrendered and most of them were executed without due process by the new regime.[12] Ghana’s National Reconciliation Commission has highly commended Odartey-Wellington for his sense of duty and “daring leadership”[13] in trying to quell the revolt so as to safeguard the transition process. In September 1995, the Ghana Army commissioned the multi-million cedi Odartey-Wellington Tennis Court at the Army Officers' Mess in Accra in honour of the late Army Commander, who had been an avid tennis player.[14]

Private life[edit]

Major General Odartey-Wellington was survived by his wife Comfort and five children: Comfort, Esther, Dorothy, Michael, and Felix. Mrs Comfort Odartey-Wellington died in 1997 and was buried next to her husband at the Military Cemetery in Osu. Odartey-Wellington's children have since been involved in high-profile clashes in the press with Jerry Rawlings, the airman who led the 4 June 1979 coup that resulted in the killing of the former Army Commander.[15][16][17][18] One such clash culminated in the detention of Felix Odartey-Wellington by Ghana's Bureau of National Investigations(BNI) in 2000 after he had described Rawlings as a "political conman" on national television.[15][19][20][21][22][23][24]


  1. ^ Quantson, Kofi B. Ghana: Peace and Stability - Chapters from the Intelligence Sector. Accra: Napascom, 2000, p. 316.
  2. ^ "Three Original NRC Members Resign - 1975 October 15", Public Library of US Diplomacy.
  3. ^ "Former Heads of MoFA", Ministry of Food & Agriculture, Republic of Ghana.
  4. ^ Tagoe, George. Genesis Four: A True Life Story. Victoria BC: Trafford, 2003, pp. 79-81.
  5. ^ Tagoe, Genesis Four, 2003, p. 123.
  6. ^ Tagoe, Genesis Four, 2003, p. 134.
  7. ^ "Past Chiefs of Army Staff", Ghana Armed Forces.
  8. ^ Tagoe, Genesis Four, 2003, p. 153.; Quantson, Kofi B. Ghana: Peace and Stability, 2000, p. 316. Lumsden, Paul D. "Towards Ghana’s Third Republic", Canadian Journal of African Studies, Vol. 13 (3), 1980, p. 471.
  9. ^ "What will Rawlings do?" Africa Confidential, June 1979.
  10. ^ Hansen, Emmanuel, & Paul Colins. "The Army, the State and the ‘Rawlings Revolution’ in Ghana", African Affairs (Lond), 79 (314), 1980, p. 21.
  11. ^ Tagoe, Genesis Four, 2003, pp. 153-159.
  12. ^ "Skeletons under the sand - National reconciliation in Ghana means disinterring old horrors", The Economist, 24 May 2001.
  13. ^ National Reconciliation Commission, Final Report (2004), Vol. 3, Ch. 2, p. 4.
  14. ^ Sports Desk (21 September 1995). "Akafia Commissions Odartey-Wellington Tennis Court". Daily Graphic. p. 15. 
  15. ^ a b Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, "Ghana's media feels election heat", BBC News - Africa, 7 November 2000.
  16. ^ Joy Online, "Odartey Wellington fires salvo on Presidents comments...", Modern Ghana, 13 November 2000.
  17. ^ "Odartey Son Slaps Rawlings", Modern Ghana, 24 November 2008.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "TV Presenter Held For Criticizing President", GhanaWeb, 7 November 2000.
  20. ^ "Why Army Chief Killed. Rawlings Tells Story", Modern Ghana, 16 November 2008.
  21. ^ Ghana, Amnesty International Report 2001, covering events from January–December 2000.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Ghana: Three Media Personalities Arrested", AllAfrica, 8 November 2000.
  24. ^ Wisdom J. Tettey, Korbla P. Puplampu, Bruce J. Berma (eds), Critical Perspectives in Politics and Socio-Economic Development in Ghana, Leiden Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill, 2003, p. 91.
Military offices
Preceded by
Major General Kotei
Chief of Army Staff
1978 – 1979
Succeeded by
Major General Nunoo-Mensah
Political offices
Preceded by
Lt Col H. Selormey
Commissioner for Health
? – ?
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Lt Col Paul Nkegbe
Commissioner for Agriculture
Succeeded by
Colonel Samuel Akwagiram