An outpour of grief, shock and confusion greeted the announcement of the death of former President Jerry John Rawlings, last Thursday, in the Ledzokuku Constituency, in the Greater Accra Region, where the former President once stayed.
The Military Ruler, who was at the helm of the nation’s politics, from June 1979 to September 1979, and later December 31, 1981 to January 6, 1993; and as Founding President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana, from January 7, 1993, to January 6, 2001, was reported dead on Thursday, November 12, 2020.
News had it that he died at the Korlebu Teaching Hospital, in Accra, where he had been on admission.
And when the news broke out, many in the Ledzokuku Constituency, of which Teshie, the home of the Military Academy and Training School, where former president trained as a cadet officer, expressed shock and disbelief.
In small groups, residents continue to gather and wondering what might have caused the death, a few weeks after the funeral of the mother of the late president, Madam Victoria Agbotui.
From both the side of the political divide- the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP)- as well as people who would not identify themselves with any party, poured in eulogies about the Ghanaian leader, who chalked 73 plus a few months, before going to eternity.
In sampled views by the Ghana News Agency (GNA), respondents described former President Rawlings as a selfless, fair, honest, un-hypocritical and ‘down to earth’ person, who would be remembered, not only in Ledzokuku, but in the whole of Ghana, Africa and the rest of the world.
Mr Benjamin Ayiku Narteh, the Ledzokuku NDC parliamentary candidate for Election 2020, in a brief telephone chat, said in a shattered voice: “I’m down. You know, he’s my friend.”
“His legacy will live on forever,” Mr Eric Mensah, popularly called Agoe Nachar, and executive member of the Teshie International Airport Club Lane, a club of both young and old, affiliated with the NDC, and locally called Port, said.
With fond memories, and describing J.J. as “Father”, Mr Mensah, indicated that the death could bring in both good and bad to the Party and the nation, but prayed that the good would prevail over the bad.
He said: “ We believe J J’s death will ginger us a lot, and activate the NDC more,” but stressed on NDC faithful to stick to the NDC’s core values of unity, stability, peace and development, in the run up the December 7, 2020 general election.
Mr Mensah recalled that Jerry Rawlings stayed for some time in a house named Anyankor Family House in Teshie, and together with Sergeant Alolga Akata Pore, Sowah Robert , and one Otchie, organized the youth to form the June 4 Movement, and then moved to nearby Nungua town to form a branch there.
Also, through the influence of Jerry Rawlings, a number of the youth in the constituency, including his late son Charles Abbey, got enlisted into the Ghana Army; or worked with the Commandos.
He said the late President Rawlings intervened and convinced the electorate in the constituency to give the late Adjei-Boye Sekan a second term in Parliament, and the MP ensured that the land on which LEKMA Hospital stood was protected from encroachment.
“The Old Man (Jerry Rawlings) helped many of us, directly or indirectly. He brought E. T. Mensah, Azumah Nelson and others here, through whom we got needed assistance,” Mr Mensah said
He added that, the former President, in the era of the revolution, personally took part in the digging of the trench for the construction of a storm drain from the Teshie Main Road to the Sango Lagoon.
Also, at the Teshie Port Lane, a storey building, the respondent said, stood as a monument to the memory of J.J.
Mr Emmanuel Lamptey, Chairman of the Council of Elders of NPP in Ledzokuku Constituency, affectionately called Aloway, recalled that Jerry Rawlings was court marshaled after a failed coup attempt on May 15, 1979.
“Rawlings urged the tribunal to hold him personally responsible for the abortive coup, declaring, ‘leave my men alone.’”
Mr Lamptey described that action as bravery on the part of J.J., and said J.J. refused to join the rest of his colleagues with whom he staged the coup to accept a scholarship and study abroad.
On his personal interaction with Rawlings, Mr Lamptey recalled that he visited a disco owned by Mr Mike Eghan, now of the Convention People’s Party, at Adabraka in Accra, where Jerry had also come.
Mr Lamptey said his car had a burst tyre, and when Jerry saw the situation in which he was, he gave him his spare tyre, and asked him to return it to his Ridge residence later.
He described the late Jerry Rawlings as being “down to earth” but said he (Rawlings) was “spoiled” by the intellectuals who got on to the revolutionary process.
“When Jerry felt threatened, he turned to Fidel Castro, Qaddafi and Kojo Tsikata for security. But people were not happy with the disappearances, which were due to security reasons.
“I got to know he regretted those decisions.
“In politics, there’s neither a permanent friend nor a permanent enemy. What remains and lasts is permanent interest,” Mr Lamptey said.
Mrs Dora Adashie, Manageress of Eagle Eye International School at Teshie Tsui Bleo, described J.J. Rawlings as selfless and ”a man who stood by his words.
“Jerry Rawlings, even as Head of State, would wear his boots and with a shovel, go into the gutters and desilt them. If all would follow that example, and at least, once a month go into the dirty gutters and clean them, the mosquitoes can’t breed and give us diseases. The floods will also be minimal.
“J J was down to earth, he set real examples,” Mrs Adashie said.
Quoting the Book of 2 Corinthians 1:3, in the Bible, Mrs Adashie prayed that, the God of all should comfort and wipe the tears of former First Lady Nana Konadu, the children, the family and all Ghanaians.
Mr John Kwei Mensah, alias Elder Mensah, said:” Rawlings was brave, fair and promise keeper. What he didn’t like was when you don’t keep your word with him.
“He loved the people of Teshie, and we also love him. He was a great man.
“Our love for him is why we could banter at him during our traditional festival. No hard feelings against Rawlings. He made an impact on Ledzokuku, That’s why my people crafted songs and poke fun at him during the celebration of the annual Homowo festival.
“May his soul find a good resting place with the Lord. I believe if we meet again, we shall share fond memories.”
Madam Mary Doe, a housewife, said the death of Rawlings should bring more peace and unity among Ghanaians.
Alhaji Abubakar Iddriss, a dealer in footwear, who said he had stayed in Teshie for the past 23 years, described former President Rawlings as a “good man created by God himself to lead Ghana.”
Speaking Pidgin English, Alhaji Iddriss said: “Me dee, what I go fit talk for the JJ matter is that the J J, eno be small man. Eno be only Ghana, Africa self, know him.
“Ebe God himself made J.J. for Ghana. As we dey go for elections, ebe JJ wey edey, ego fit stop politicians make dem no bring trouble.”
He eulogised the late President Rawlings for granting national holidays to the Muslim community, and giving them access to the Independence Square to hold prayers at the national level.