Ghana’s Jerry Rawlings had an eventful life, Rest in Power

Former Ghana President and Military officer, a flight lieutenant has been taken down by an invisible and confusing enemy. However, Jerry John Rawlings, as he lived, was a tough man, a man whose life was characterised by events that appear impossible to achieve.

At the tender age of 32 years, Jerry had already plotted a military coup in then unstable Ghana, got caught and was on trial when the second one in support of him happened.

It was successful. That was 1979 and the man they had deposed was General Fred Akuffo, himself a military man who had led a military coup against another military guy Ignatius Kutu Acheampong.

Ghana had a tumultuous time after the military ousted first President Kwame Nkrumah.

Short story: Rawlings toppled the military govt, became leader for a period of time, handed back leadership to civilians, saw their mismanagement, hated it, toppled that leader and became President again. Transitioned from military to civilian and might have played a bigger part in making Ghana stable.

Ghana’s peaceful independence lasted from 1957 to 1966, where the first president Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a violent coup by Lieutenant General Joseph Arthur Ankrah in Febuary 1966, while on a state visit to Asia. Lieutenant Ankrah had led the coup calling for fair distribution of resources and also because Kwame had undermined the military by creating a parallel force that appeared to rival the military, other reasons were that economic such as fair distribution of resources, industrialization and modernity (McGowan & Johnson, 1984). Kwame, who had led the country since 1957 never returned, he died in exile.

A younger Jerry Rawlings as a Flight Lieutenant

In April, 1967, Lieutenant Ankrah also faced an attempted coup, commonly referred to as ‘Operation Guitar Boy’. He managed to defeat the coup plotters and remained in power, but resigned in 1969. Important to note is that, Ghana had a system of government that consisted of the prime Minister and the President. But the Prime Minister position was abolished in 1972. Therefore, after the resignation of Lieutenant Ankrah in 1969, Brigadier Akwasi Afrifa took over as president, and Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia as the Prime Minister. The two were toppled in a bloodless coup by Ignatius Kutu Acheampong. Dr. Busia’s government had been democratically elected. Military intervened.

Jerry Rawlings: The rough-edged reformer – Daily Nation [Am sad this story appears lost in the server due to changes in Nation Media Group’s wesbite]

Ignatius Kutu Acheampong was also toppled in a palace coup by Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Fred Akuffo in July 1978 who led the country for slightly over a year before being overthrown in a coup led by an Airforce Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings in June 1979. Mr. Rawlings quickly consolidated power by signing the orders to execute former military rulers that is Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, General Afrifa and General Akuffo. He led the country through a transition and eventually handed power to a civilian a Mr. Hilla Limann in September 1979. Mr. Limann took over for a short while before Jerry John Rawlings overthrew him once more citing mismanagement in December 1981. The reasons for the military interventions in the later years were more or less the same as when the first government of Kwame Nkrumah was toppled.

Rawlings had a relationship with both the elite and the lowly (rich and the poor). He had an easy demeanour but a commanding presence, from what I read and saw on TV.

A passionate guy who was criticised for being too common at times. There’s a story where the reformer Jerry was passing through a town with his presidential entourage, he stopped his driver, stepped out and approached some men by the roadside, borrowed a cigarette from one of them, took a few puffs, chatted a little and proceeded.

The handsome man from Ghana has now passed on, leaving Africa with his legacy of reforming one of the African states that is now a beacon of hope in terms of democracy and attracting African – Americans who want to escape the claws of Jim Crow USA.

The date is 12 November 2020, the place Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. The illness, a fucking respiratory complications.

At the young age of 73 years.