Tribute after tribute at the State Burial Service of Former President Jerry John Rawlings has invariably recounted how much he touched the lives of many a Ghanaian and his profound contribution to the overall growth of the country.
The tributes capture his early life, political career, family life, international relations, philanthropic work, among other spheres of the man largely described as an “enigma”.
“I believe that history, on balance, will be kind to him, and will render him a positive verdict on his contribution to the evolution of our nation, and the entrenchment of its democratic institutions and culture,” President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo, summed it up for the man, who presided for over Ghana’s affairs for 19 years.
President Akufo-Addo praised his many initiatives and achievements during the different eras he entered the national political arena: 15th May, 1979 Uprising; June 4, 1979 Revolution; 31st December 1982 Revolution and 7th January, 1993 Fourth Republic, saying the latter was the most significant and enduring.
Thus, making January 7, a national holiday to celebrate the stability of the Fourth Republic, which has seen eight consecutive successful democratic elections and transfer of power, the President emphasised, was the greatest tribute to him, as the founder of the Fourth Republic.
“Your kind is rare, and we are proud that we have benefited from your wisdom,” said the National Democratic Congress, which he founded in 1992, and signed the Party’s first manifesto with his blood.
The Party extolled his commitment to the cause of social justice, transparency, probity and accountability in public administration.
His four children – Zanetor, Yaa Asantewaa, Amina and Kimathi – say of him: “You raised us to challenge the ordinary….” “You were always a man of the people” and “You will always be our warrior”.
“Jerry, I know that God created us for each other,” his childhood sweetheart and beloved widow, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, shared. “You made me the eyes and ears of what was going on in the country….” “You were passionate and open hearted….” “You took pride in your fatherly duty….”
For the Ghana Armed Forces, the distinguished Air Force pilot raised the bar of institutional discipline. “You will be remembered as the longest serving Head of State… you shaped our national destiny and you can now rest in peace.”
Former President Rawlings, credited with laying the foundation for Ghana’s economic growth with far reaching economic recovery programmes in the 1980s and 1990s, rural development infrastructure and participatory democracy, died on Thursday, November 12, 2020, after a short illness.
He was 73. He will be interred at the new Military cemetery at Burma Camp, with full military honours, following a funeral cortege through some principal streets in Accra.