It is exactly a year since the passing of Ghana’s longest-serving Head-of-State and former President Jerry John Rawlings at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.
The former President was on admission at the hospital for an undisclosed illness.
Reports suggested that ex-President Rawlings was brought to the National Cardiothoracic Centre of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
He was subsequently transferred to the Intensive care unit of the hospital on Wednesday, November 11, 2020, and passed on Thursday, November 12, 2020.
He was 73.
Jerry John Rawlings had buried his late mother Madam Victoria Agbotui in October 2020. Madam Agbotui died at the age of 101.
Rawlings’ four-day state funeral
There was a four-day state funeral organized in honour of the former President which began on Sunday, January 24, 2021.
The funeral began with a Catholic Requiem Mass at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Accra and was followed by a vigil at the Air Force Officers Mess in Accra.
He was laid in state on Monday, January 25, 2021, at the foyer of the Accra International Conference Centre after which the immediate family of the former President received the mortal remains for a brief family ritual at dawn before the public viewing.
The funeral for the late President was initially scheduled for December 23, 2020, by the State but that upset the Anlo Traditional Council and the Agbotui, Tamaklo, Husunu, and allied families that wanted to be consulted.
The Council led by the Awadada of the Anlo, Togbui Agbesi Awusu II, said the arrangements made at the time were not in accordance with the customs and traditions of the Anlo people, leading to the initial indefinite postponement of the funeral rites of the late former President.
Rawlings goes home
Former President Jerry John Rawlings was buried on January 27, 2021, at the 37 Military Cemetery in Accra.
The pre-burial service took place at Independence Square where scores of Ghanaians gathered to pay their last respects to JJ Rawlings.
President Akufo-Addo, the Vice President and other government officials were present at the funeral.
Liberia President George Weah and Sierra Leone President, Julius Maada Bio are among the foreign dignitaries who attended the funeral.
Mamadou Tangara, The Gambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Ibn Chambas, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel as well as delegations from the ECOWAS Commission, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria were also at the state funeral.
Who was JJ Rawlings?
The son of a Scottish farmer and a Ghanaian mother, Rawlings entered the Ghana Air Force, graduating in 1969.
A decade later, as a senior officer in the air force, he overthrew a military government, handing over power to a civilian leader.
He oversaw the execution of several former heads of state and army generals for corruption but expressed some regret about the killings. Later the execution by firing squad of Supreme Court judges also left a stain on his legacy.
“I am still aware that we in Ghana do not like bloodshed,” he said at the time.
“I personally do not like it. I mean, I’d rather, let’s say, confiscate a man’s wealth and bring him down to the level to which he’s brought us just to give him a taste of what life has been, what he’s done to us.”
In 1981, he led a second coup and was the head of a military junta until introducing multi-party elections in 1992, when he was first elected president.
He stepped down in 2001 after serving two terms but continued to wield a strong influence in the country.
He began his time in power as a committed socialist but later introduced free-market reforms.
He ushered in a long period of political stability after a tumultuous series of coups in the 1960s and 1970s.
In later years, Rawlings campaigned for African nations to have their international debts written off.