As Jerry John Rawlings, Ghana’s leader since the December 31, 1981 coup until the 2000 elections, journeys home, some children at Kanda, a suburb of Accra who affectionately call him JJ, shared their views on who they know him to be.
While some of the children said he was a great leader, one boy, Jerry said “my father said during their days, he beats people papaa, he said he cleaned a gutter at Ashaiman too.”
Another boy, Andrews who was still in shock the hero has died said “my teacher told us about how he flew a helicopter through a bridge, he was a very bold and courageous man, he can even lash old people.”
Aradwoa on her part said “he was Ghana’s first president and he loved Ghana.”
In a solemn manner, Manuel recounted what his father told him about JJ, saying “he was the one who fought for Ghana, he was a soldier, he was disciplined too, he was the one who removed trees from the volta lake…he use to come to our hometown, Sogakofe.”
Another girl who said the grandfather was a soldier said “JJ was a confident hero, he fought for Ghana, he loved Ghana.”
“My father said JJ was a soldier, he fought for Ghana, he was Ghana’s first president.” – Johnson
On what one thing these children would remember him for, Sammy said “he was a hero, he fought for us.”
One little girl, Samuola said “he is a fighter, he loved Ghana.”
Jerry John Rawlings, Ghana’s leader since the December 31, 1981 coup until the 2000 elections, was a Flight Lieutenant in the Air Force and a militant populist when he led the first coup of June 4, 1979, that overthrew the regime of Gen. Fred Akuffo, who had, in turn, deposed his predecessor, Gen. I.K. Acheampong, in a palace coup. According to Shillington (1992), Rawlings was convinced that after one year of the Akuffo regime, nothing had been changed and the coup amounted to a “waste of time,” and “it was then up to him to change not only the status quo, but also put the country back on track”
Rawlings, unlike many other leaders in Ghana’s history, subsequently led the country through the difficult years of economic recovery and succeeded in giving back to Ghanaians their national pride. Chazan (1983) observes “without Rawlings’ strength of character and unwavering determination, Ghana would not have survived the Economic Recovery Programs (ERPs) of the 1980s put in place by the ruling Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC)”
Rawlings saw his leadership role to be that of a “watchdog” for ordinary people and he addressed problems of incompetence, injustice and corruption.
Rawlings also instituted a transition from authoritarianism to multi-party democracy by attempting to decentralize the functions of government from Accra to other parts of the country.
When the PNDC established the People’s Defence Committees (PDCs), a system of cooperatives, it became a unique move never before seen in Ghana’s political economy.
Late former President Jerry John Rawlings was laid in state today at the Accra International Conference Centre.
This formed part of funeral activities lined up for the statesman who died on November 12, 2020, at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
The event also gave the general public along with some dignitaries an opportunity to file past his body to pay their last respect.