In what really was a sad display, the 38th annual Technology Exhibition in the Ghanian capital of Accra included marching super soldiers wearing exoskeletons backed up by a huge armored personnel carrier…thing. The display was meant to showcase local high-tech achievements, but it was really a costume party more than anything else orchestrated largely but a single company known for highly dubious military “inventions.”
The spray-painted motorcycle helmet wearing soldiers had laughably clunky assault rifle turret contraptions attached to their backs, cannons on their arms, and ‘armor’ panels with tubes running to their exoskeleton suits that supposedly lied beneath. Well, that clearly wasn’t the case even at first glance. As the soldiers waddled slowly forward, it became clear that one of the fake hydraulic tubes had broken loose from the leg of one of the costumes, making the whole affair not even meet a low-tier Borg cosplay outfit at a small market Trek convention.
The ‘APC’ was bad too. It’s ungainly, has a civilian-like hobbled-together interior, and is equipped with a few cameras, some sort of weapons turret, a ‘laser range finder,’ and there are a bunch of smoke grenade launchers tacked onto it. The platform that the APC shell is built on looks like some sort of hodge-podge of commercial parts.
Listen, the whole thing is really embarrassing and at the same time, in some ways outright amazing. The idea that it is 2019, yet a spectacle this bad could be accepted as credible, is mesmerizing.
It certainly says something about the man behind these creations, The Apostle Dr. Kwadwo Safo Kantanka, founder of both the Kantanka Group of Companies and his Pentecostal Church, the Kristo Asafo Mission of Ghana. A 2016 Jalopnik profile on Katanka and his automotive interests, which is worth reading in full, makes it clear that its unclear why and when he dubbed himself an apostle or started referring to himself as a “doctor.”
Jalopnik’s particular interest in the Kantanka Automobile Company, which Kwadwo Safo Jr. is CEO of, was centered on its claims to sell cars that were both designed for and made in Ghana. Neither of these things turned out to be true.
The cars come from a Chinese manufacturer in knock-down kits that Kantanka simply assembles in the country. Kantanka Automobile’s website incredulously claims to be “Africa’s No. 1 Choice Automaker.”
In addition to the automotive arm, Kantanka Group has a long history of producing similar military “innovations,” including a wooden “attack helicopter” and something that defies description and has features that appear ripped from an airplane and a trailer-mounted anti-aircraft gun. Even the vehicles that look more realistic in their basic design have obviously fake weapons and other “advanced” features.
What is clear is that Kantanka, as well as his well-to-do family, have a significant base of support, which is bolstered by an organic media outlet, Kantanka Newsroom. After the debacle at Technology Exhibition in Accra, Nana Safo, likely another one of Katanka’s sons, went so far as to write a scathing hit piece on a local blogger for even asking questions about the systems’ viability titled “Ghanaians Shame Blogger JB Klutse over His 5 Stupid Questions About Kantanka’s Exoskeleton.”
So yeah, the whole thing is an oddly fascinating disaster.
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Author: Tyler Rogoway and Joseph Trevithick
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