Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 January 2021:
Yesterday, President Dr Julius Maada Bio attended the state funeral of the late Flt Lt Jerry J. Rawlings, the first President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana who passed away on 12 November 2020, aged 73.
In his tribute to the late former President of Ghana, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio stated: “Although tributes never remove the sting of a hero’s passing, they help us remember what we cannot undo about their lives and their impact on society. His Excellency Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings was a friend, a mentor and statesman whose voice and deeds continue to inspire me”.
Recalling his personal relationship with the late Ghanaian leader, President Bio also said: “I will always remember his advice, that when a nation is broken and vulnerable; when injustice is so rife, leaders must make it their life’s mission to stand up for the ordinary man. If changes should happen, he often emphasised, then leaders must express righteous rage on behalf of and empower the people.
“I will remember President Rawlings as a patient and kind-hearted man who treated me with empathy and freely shared his experience and advice. He summed up what he stood for in a simple saying, ‘Stay true to your principle; maintain your integrity and history will always judge you kindly.”
A glowing tribute was also paid to late President Rawlings by the current President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in which he said, among other things: “From my entry into office, right up to the day he was called by his maker, he remained a good friend and a repository of sound advice. I knew that, in moments of difficulty in my presidency, I could count on his considerable wealth of experience and knowledge. On those occasions, he came through for me”.
Jerry John Rawlings was born on June 22, 1947, in Accra. He was the longest-serving ruler in Ghana’s history – 11 years as a military leader and 8 years as a twice-elected civilian President – a total of 19 years.
He is survived by his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings; four children – Zenator, Yaa Asantewaa, Amina, Kimathi; and five grandchildren.
I can understand why Bio feels some form of affinity with the former Ghanaian head of States. The differences in the way they approach governing for their people cannot be starker. Rawlings is a real man of the ordinary people. The poor and wretched or the just getting by. Corruption was so rampant in Ghana and it was the reason he took over for the second time in 1981. Indeed Rawlings launched his failed May 1979 first coup attempt, to fight endemic corruption in Ghanaian politics and big businesses that collaborate with corrupt state officials, especially under the rule of General Fred Akufo. After Rawlings was freed from jail as he awaited execution by junior officers in June of that year, he formed the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council.
Though the elections that were scheduled went ahead, few months later he handed over power to the elected civilian government, Hilla Limann. But not until Rawlings ordered the execution of three former Ghanaian heads of state and other senior officers. One of the darkest chapters in Ghanaian history. I K Acheampong, Akwasi Afrifa and Fred Akufo. Now when you hear Bio heaping praise to his mentor, you can’t help but reconcile the idea where state murder of former inspector General of police the late Bambay Kamara, late Yayah Kanu and twenty seven innocent lives came from. Orders made by Valentin Strasser, Bio, and Saj Musa, without any benefit of due process of the law.
Ironically, the same reasons of state negligence and widespread corruption given by the then young soldiers of the NPRC for overthrowing the Momoh government, we are even experiencing worse economic conditions. At least Rawlings laid the foundations for Ghana’s economic development we see today. But you cannot say that about the NPRC or the present government. What a travesty of justice to justify state sanctioned murders.
Rest in perfect peace former President of Ghana Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings. Because of you, Ghana is thriving today. Other African countries are trying to emulate the success of Ghana. Not only the country but your family will miss you so much . May God continue to bless you.