“During Liberia’s dark days, Rawlings and other prominent Ghanaians demonstrated their humanitarian gesture to host Liberians in Ghana, where some stayed and integrated into the society of that country.“ – Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh
Several African leaders, including President George Manneh Weah, have paid tributes to fallen former Ghanaian President, Jerry John Rawlings, who died Thursday morning in Accra, Ghana.
Ghana’s current President Nana Akufo-Addo, who is from a rival political party, announced seven days of national mourning for the fallen former president.
“A great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss,” he said in a statement.
Africa, yea the world, was shocked during the early part of yesterday when they heard about the demise of former Ghanaian President, Jerry John Rawlings. President Rawlings died at the age of 73 at a Hospital in Accra, following a brief illness.
Rawlings, a retired Flight Lieutenant in the Ghanaian Air Force, led two coups in Ghana and won two elections in multiparty polls. History records him for taking steps to fight corruption in Ghana, but at the same time criticized for human rights abuses, some of which involved the executions of military leaders for corruption.
Ghana’s Daily Graphic reports that a statement issued Thursday and signed by the daughter and Member of Parliament for the Korle Klottey Constituency, Zenator Agyemang-Rawlings, announced the passing of Ghana’s first president for the fourth republic.
“It is with deep sadness that the family of His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings (rtd) informs the general public that the former president of the Republic, passed away on Thursday morning after a short illness.”
“The family requests privacy at this difficult moment,” the statement said.
Condolences pour in
“Ghana, Liberia and Africa will miss a great leader,” Liberian President George Weah tweeted. “Liberia remembers his immense contribution to the attainment and sustainment of peace during [the] dark days of our own history.”
“The entire African continent will sorely miss the sterling qualities of the great leader,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said. “The passion, discipline and moral strength that the former Ghanaian leader employed to reposition his country over many years continue to reverberate across the continent and beyond.”
African Union Commission chairman, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said “Africa has lost a stalwart of Pan-Africanism and a charismatic continental statesman.”
Rawlings the Pan-Africanist
At the level of Pan Africanism and the Movement for Justice in Africa, Rawlings was a key player that the likes of Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh will remember.
In his tribute to the families of Rawlings and the people of Ghana, Dr. Tipoteh acknowledged that the fallen Ghanaian former President was one of those who responded to the calls for Pan African action to alleviate perennial and pervasive poverty for his people.
In Dr. Tipoteh’s account about Rawlings, he stated: “President Rawlings took over State rule in a coup d’état, then stepped down and ran successfully to be President through elections. Then he stepped down once again when his term was over. Such action surprised many people because President Rawlings had come from being a Flight Lieutenant and was considered to be for dictatorial rule. In the tradition of the late former President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, he worked for democratic rule, although coming from the military.”
Military leadership is perceived and considered as counterproductive to democracy, and anyone taking power through that means may not be welcomed in the global leadership realm for the fact that such a person’s ascendancy has no democratic ingredient, and this might have been with Rawlings when he, on two occasions, claimed the presidency of Ghana through military coup d’état.
However, with what Dr. Tipoteh remembers about the Ghanaian leader, he believes that Rawlings proved contrary to perceptions people had that since he was a military man, his leadership would be one of the worst in history.
“It is clear that we have in Africa examples of good people in the military, looking at the good works of the late President Rawlings and the late President Sankara, respectively, and examples of bad people in the military, looking at the work of the late Mobutu Sese Seko of the ‘Democratic’ Republic of the Congo (DRC), who spearheaded the murder of another Champion of Pan Africanism, Patrice Lumumba of the DRC. It is not at all surprising that Rawlings became a Leader in the restoration of Sankara as a democratic leader in the DRC by unearthing his mortal remains and doing an honored reburial with an appropriate Monument.”
During Liberia’s dark days, Dr. Tipoteh recalls, Rawlings and other prominent Ghanaians demonstrated their humanitarian gesture to host Liberians in Ghana, where some stayed and integrated into the society of that country.
“The Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) remains in alliance with the work of President Rawlings to alleviate poverty, corruption and injustice in Ghana and other parts of Africa. In terms of Liberia, President Rawlings was pivotal in arranging accommodations for Liberians who fled to Ghana on account of the Civil War in Liberia. Let us recall how the Buduburam Area was cleared up for Liberians to live in. Through working with Professor Akilagpa Sawyerr, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana at Legon, and Professor Kwesi Botchwey, former Finance Minister of Ghana, both Lawyers and Pan Africanists, we knew President Rawlings and we worked together. Senator Conmany Wesseh of Liberia was a Pan Africanist Student Leader with the All African Student Council and he collaborated with the Council’s members who were in the government of Ghana to establish the Buduburam Center. His wife, Medina, now Head of the Mano River Union Headquarters, worked closely with her husband,” recalled Dr. Tipoteh.
With President Rawlings’ pivotal role in Pan Africanism, Dr. Tipoteh noted in his eulogy: “So, we come here today to celebrate the sustainable democratic institution-building work of President Rawlings and not to mourn on account of his Passing Away.” On the rationale of the Pan Africanism in remembering Jerry John Rawlings, Dr. Tipoteh wrote: “Perennial and pervasive poverty in any African country calls for Pan African action to alleviate it because the source of the Poverty Pandemic is the Transnational Corporate Entity in alliance with State actors who benefit from the Poverty Pandemic, as seen in the poor getting poorer as the rich get richer (see data from Reports of the United Nations, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund). Essentially, it was within the context of the Struggle to alleviate poverty that we come to make this Tribute to honor the Memory of Former President Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana, who Passed Away this morning.”