Getting up at my usual time early on Sunday morning, 7th January 2024, was difficult. I felt like I was in a trance with my brain/mind doing a playback at me. Why? It certainly was a significant day for me! Twenty-four years earlier on 7th January 2000, I commanded Ghana’s Millennium Parade at the Black Star/Independence Square from the back of my horse “Majestic.”
Unsurprisingly, memories of MAJESTIC flooded my thoughts in my dreamy state.
For many years, Majestic majestically dominated Independence/Black Star Square parades as Ghana’s foremost parade-horse. The choice of the name Majestic was apt as the mighty stallion was majestic in all respects. He was handsome, intelligent, strong and regal, commanding instant respect and admiration.
Introducing the majestic stallion Majestic to me as my parade-horse when I was tasked in early December 1999 to command the Millennium-Parade a month away, my riding instructor then Sgt (now ex-WO1) Suka, a tough soldier/rider told me,
“Sir, Majestic is a very proud horse. You either ride him, or he rides you!”
He recounted instances Majestic had messed up parade commanders in earlier years, with dire consequences to their careers.
With this advice/warning, I gave my instructor a blank-cheque to do anything to me to ensure a successful parade! Soon, the strenuous killer horsemanship training he subjected me to, made me regret my decision. But he toughened me as I lost five kilograms in a month.
Majestic and I soon developed mutual respect for our individual abilities, and became friends. Having discovered that Majestic had a sweet-tooth, I started my day with him at 6am after my physical training from 5am, by giving him sugar which he happily licked from my palm. Thereafter my instructor and I on our horses would go to our military training grounds between Burma Camp, Teshie and the Kpeshie-Lagoon. Today, the whole area now called “Tse-Addo” is heavily populated with buildings!
An early lesson I learnt the hard way was that, like many humans, horses fear snakes. While training one morning, a snake glided across us. On seeing the snake, Majestic turned back and took off straight for the stables some 3kms away with his mouth wide opened and head in the sky. That day, I understood practically the theory we were taught in Physics at school about what “horsepower” meant. With a horse’s strength of more than ten humans combined, no amount of pulling with all my strength could stop him from speeding to the stables. Bad as I thought the snake experience was, it was to prove beneficial later.
During the rehearsals at the Black-Star-Square, I warned the Information Services/GBC journalists not to bring any cable close to me as Majestic would take it for a snake. Unfortunately, on the D-Day 7th January 2000, a gentleman came out of an Information Services vehicle with a cable-roll. Anticipating he was going to throw it in my direction, I quickly jerked Majestic’s head 45 degrees in the opposite direction.
Immediately he saw the cable thrown, Majestic reared on its hind legs and attempted to take off to his favorite destination for his victims, the Marine-Drive beach behind the Black-Star-Square. My anticipation paid off when he only succeeded in bringing me to my original position, at great cost to my left shoulder, my sword being in my right hand.
Until my very close encounter with Majestic, I did not know that, like dogs, horses have a strong sense of smell, though to a lesser degree. My instructor told me they could tell every morning when I was about 3-kms away from the stable. On picking my scent, an excited Majestic would start flapping his ears knowing his sugar would soon arrive. My “Manager” later complained that, Majestic ate all the sugar in our home! My day with Majestic ended with me giving him round-two of sugar before we parted company.
Just before I mounted him on 7th January 2000 for the communication-gadgets to be fixed on me, I put my arms around his neck/mane and said,
“Majestic, today is our final day. Be a good boy and let’s have a good parade!”
To my surprise, Majestic nodded in acknowledgement. For a confirmation, I repeated what I said and he again acknowledged it with a nod. The Millennium parade started at 9am, and three hours later, Majestic and I trotted off the Black-Star-Square tired, but happy with ourselves from the thunderous applause we were given.
Like dogs, horses can be very loving and affectionate. Majestic and I remained friends until he died in March 2010 of old-age at 30, which translated into human age of about 90 years.
I have been asked if horses are dangerous. Generally, they are not dangerous. However, if approached from the rear, horses sense danger of being attacked. Their hind legs can be a dangerous/fatal weapon when they kick considering their immense strength. One must therefore always approach a horse from the front, and never from the rear.
Fellow Ghanaians, if animals like Majestic my parade-horse, and pets like dogs can be so loving, why do we humans treat one another with so much disrespect/hatred/cruelty simply because of different viewpoints? Again, why all the corruption/greed manifesting in “galamsey” poisoning/destroying the environment and human lives when very few of us will live to the 90-years Majestic lived?
May Ghanaians learn from the majestic nature of my parade-horse Majestic, and make peace!
Let us live in peace in 2024 and beyond!
Leadership, lead by example! Fellow Ghanaians, WAKE UP!
Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd)
Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya
Council Chairman Family Health University College Accra
Source: Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd), Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya
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