TRIBUTE TO THE LATE JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS
Jerry Rawlings was born Jeremiah Rawlings John on 22nd June 1947 in Accra, Ghana to his parents, James Ramsey John and Victoria Agbotui. His father was a chemist from Castle Douglas in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland while his mother was from Dzelukope, Keta in Ghana. Growing up, the late Rawlings attended secondary school at the Achimota College in 1967 and then moved on to attend a military academy in Teshie. Later, he met and fell in love with Nana Konadu Agyeman, whom he married and had three daughters and one son with.
LIFE IN THE MILITARY
Shortly after joining the Ghana Air Force, Rawlings earned recognition for himself. He won the highly coveted “Speed Bird Trophy” for being the best cadet and being a skilled jet aircraft pilot. In 1978, he became a Flight Lieutenant. Being of sound intellectual acumen, it did not take long for him to see the level of rot and corruption in Supreme Military Council (SMC).
Rawlings, therefore, took it upon himself to clean up the decay in the army and then in the entire country. He carried out an unsuccessful coup against General Fred Akufo’s government, was arrested and sentenced to death.
However, he was freed from prison in 1979 by a group of soldiers loyal to him and, soon, he formed a 15-man Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). The AFRC was responsible for the arrests and deaths of eight military officers which include three former heads of state: Afrifa, Acheampong and Akuffo. His “housecleaning exercise” would later expand to arresting and killing over 300 Ghanaians.
Interestingly, the mass arrests and executions carried by Rawlings and his soldiers were carried out in what they believed to be “the best interest of the nation”. He became the first democratically-elected president of Ghana’s Fourth Republic and ruled for eight years. He then handed over power to John Agyekum Kufuor in 2001.
AWARDS AND LEGACY
One of the legacies left behind by Rawlings is the establishment of the Ghanaian Constitution of 1988. He was also known for giving public lectures at various prestigious universities, including Oxford University.
Furthermore, in 2013, He was given an Honorary degree (Doctorate of Letters) from the University for Development Studies in northern Ghana for his $50,000 contribution to the establishment of the University in 1992.
Also, Rawlins was given the Global Champion for People’s Freedom award by the Mkiva Humanitarian Foundation in October, 2013.
Ex-president Jerry John Rawlins died at the age of 73. Unconfirmed reports say that he died from Covid-19. To pay respect to him, the Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo announced a week of national mourning for him. According to President Akufo-Addo: “A great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss.”