Jerry John Rawlings, a former President Of Ghana was born in the capital Accra, June 22nd, 1947. He was the son of a Scottish farmer and a Ghanaian mother, joining the country’s military in 1967 (Ghana Air Force), aged 20.
Within twelve years of service he graduated to being Flight Lieutenant. This was enough to give him all the backing that he needed to orchestrate a “coup d’etat, in 1979, when Ghana was a mere 22 years into its independence.
Rawlings was in total disagreement with the ruling party who came in power in 1972. After seven years of their leadership they were still bending to the whims and ways of Britain, its former coloniser, taking the country down the twin paths of corruption and economical decline.
Once Rawlings and his followers took control of Ghana, he did what very few victors in that position would do; he handed it back to civilian-rule.
But after 2 years of mayhem Rawlings stepped in again and took charge of Ghana outright and remained President until 2001.
Steel Pulse toured Africa in December 1999 and was scheduled to meet President Rawlings during our stay. It was an encounter that we were anxious to be part of.
After all, it is not often the occasion arises to meet with one’s hero, and a legend. Unfortunately, it was never to be. At the last minute, Rawlings cancelled the meeting due to the coup d’etat that was taking place in the neighbouring country, Ivory Coast, that very day.
He sent his apologies and aired concerns about the Ivorian leader, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, that was a very close friend of his.
And because of the sudden insurgence in that once French territory, Steel Pulse was out of luck on performing there too.
Rawlings is highly respected throughout the continent for being part of the “Free Africa Movement,” an organisation of military officers who were in favour of unifying Africa through a bout of coups.
Having been caught on a previous attempt, Rawlings was charged and sentenced to death, but was released by a group of soldiers that believed in him.
And so his legacy still stands as Ghana goes into 7 days of mourning, declared by the current President, Nana Akufu-Addo. Jerry Rawlings shall go down in history as Ghana’s longest administrative President, who voluntarily stepped down from office.
This kind of achievement is not displayed often by leaders of the continent. As you know, many choose to stay in power for life.
So let’s continue to respect the efforts of this country; Ghana is top-ranked in Africa for governing in a democratic way, where people power is still respected. President Jerry John Rawlings, you big. RIP RIP.