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Remembering A True African Leader- Jerry John Rawlings

Jerry John Rawlings (1947 - 2020)

Former Ghanaian leader, Jerry John Rawlings, died the morning of 13th November, 2020 at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra, Ghana.

He was an African leader who took the scourge of corruption that plagued his country seriously and took deliberate and decisive steps to fight it. After his governance, Ghana was never the same and he is a personality that will be greatly missed.

Jerry John Rawlings (1945 - 2020)
His Excellency Former President Jerry Rawlings made a visit to Somalia. He was greeted by the Force Commander and Deputy UN Mission and he given a Guard of Honour at the Force HQ. He visited the Military Hospital, the new Movements Control Centre, the main military stores depot before going on to a call with the President of Somalia.

Jerry John Rawlings was born in Accra in 1947. His mother was Madam Victoria Agbotui, a native of Dzelukope in the Volta Region. His father was James Ramsey John, a Scotish chemist. Before enrolling in the Ghana Armed Forces as a Pilot Officer in 1969, he attended Achimota School.

After an attempt to overthrow the then military regime of General F.W.K. Akuffo, in 1979, Rawlings came onto the Ghanaian political scene. It seemed like a death sentence was in his future, but a speech he gave during his trial struck a chord with a large section of the public which in turn gained him public support. On 4 June 1979, soldiers sympathetic to his cause orchestrated his jail break, and he led a revolution of both the military and civilians which overthrew the regime and left him in charge.

After an attempt to overthrow the then military regime of General F.W.K. Akuffo, in 1979, Rawlings came onto the Ghanaian political scene. It seemed like a death sentence was in his future, but a speech he gave during his trial struck a chord with a large section of the public which in turn gained him public support. On 4 June 1979, soldiers sympathetic to his cause orchestrated his jail break, and he led a revolution of both the military and civilians which overthrew the regime and left him in charge.
ACCRA, GHANA – FEBRUARY 01: President of Ghana J.J. Rawlings. (Photo by William F. Campbell/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)

He and the other junior officers formed the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) to make moves on what they termed as “house cleaning” which eventually brought about the trial and execution of some leading figures,  including three former Ghanaian heads of state.

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Rawlings organised a general election and handed over to the civilian government of Dr Hilla Limann, However, Rawlings returned to power on December 31, 1981 through another coup d’etat as he wasn’t pleased with the way the country was being led. He ruled as Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) until 1992 when he resigned from the military to run for president on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress.

Le lieutenant Jerry Rawlings en 1982
A Young Le lieutenant Jerry Rawlings lors d’une conférence de presse à Accra le 20 janvier 1982 au Ghana. (Photo by Jérome CHATIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Chairman Rawlings, as he was known at the time, won in a landslide with 58.3 percent of the votes, while his party won 189 of the 200 parliamentary seats. He and his party won reelections 1996, but then stepped down in 2001 after serving two terms as allowed by the constitution.

Rawlings married Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, a candidate in the 2016 general elections, with whom he has four adult children including Dr Zanetor Rawlings, MP for Klottey-Korle.

After stepping down, he was still involved in local politics, often criticising successive governments, including those of his own party on various issues especially those regarding corruption. His frequent stringent criticisms and speeches earned the nickname, “Dr Boom”.

Rawlings once said, “The most dangerous mistake of any political force is to forget its roots.” These were words he lived by, and as a result, his people loved him in return, in the end, making him one of the most revered leaders in African history. Jerry John Rawlings

Edited by: Suleiman Ocheni

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