To the utmost shock of the entire nation, news broke before noon on Thursday, November 12, 2020, of the sudden demise of former President Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, who is also known asTogbui Xornametor, a chieftaincy title bestowed on him by the Chief of Aflao some years back.
Information available to The Chronicle indicates that Mr Rawlings had been on admission at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital for some days, following an undisclosed illness, and gave up the ghost yesterday morning.
Later in the day, a rather solemn communication, under the signature of the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who had a tall list of meetings but had to attend to the sad news, confirmed the passing of the statesman.
Being with the President the whole day, this reporter observed that his posture changed when the news got to him, but he had to remain very composed for the day’s work, which included a working visit from the President of the Mali Transitional Government, Mr Bah N’daw.
In the statement which officially announced to the nation the death of the former President, President Akufo-Addo said: “A great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss. May his soul rest in perfect peace in the bosom of the Almighty until the Last Day of the Resurrection, when we shall meet again. Amen!”
He added: “I have directed that all national flags should fly at half-mast for the next seven days in all parts of the country, and have declared seven days of national mourning from Friday, 13th November to Friday, 20th November. In honour of the memory of former President Rawlings, the Vice President and I have suspended our political campaigns for the same period.”
The President conveyed the deep sympathies of the government and the people of Ghana to his wife, the former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, the children, and family of the late President in these difficult times.
The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, posted on his Facebook page that he heard with shock the passing of former President Jerry John Rawlings.
“His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings’ role in the political history of Ghana is indelible; his fight for the poor and his impact on national cohesion and discipline is unforgettable. Ghana has lost a colossus, and his fond memories will forever live. My condolences to the former First Lady, Her Excellency Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, the children, the allied families, and the nation as a whole. May his soul Rest In Peace.”
Also, a statement from the leader of the opposition National Democratic Congress, John Dramani Mahama, has announced that he had suspended his campaign in the Ashanti Region following the news of the death of the founder of the party, he posted on his Facebook page.
Announcing the death on behalf of the family, the first daughter of Rawlings, who is the Member of Parliament for Klottey Korley Constituency, Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, urged that “the family requests privacy at this difficult moment.”
Rawlings was recently seen in the media during the activities of the burial and funeral rites for his late mother, Victoria Agbotui, who died barely two months ago.
Rawlings’ Family informs Akufo-Addo officially
At Jubilee House yesterday, the family of former President Rawlings visited President Akufo-Addo to officially inform him of the demise of his friend.
Mr John Blagogee spoke on behalf of a delegation led by Col. Joshua Agbotui from the family of former President Rawlings and deemed it appropriate to officially inform President Akufo-Addo.
He informed the President that Mr Rawlings, a few days after the burial of his mother, fell sick and was hospitalised, during which time President Akufo-Addo was in touch “with his brother.”
President Akufo-Addo consoled the family, describing Rawlings as “a man of great vitality, dynamism and energy. It is difficult to see his dead body lying in the morgue…He and I had a tempestuous relationship built over many years. I believe that we came to see value in each other…”
President Akufo-Addo said he was not an ordinary Ghanaian, and as such, his burial would be taken over by the state, which will work with the family for a befitting burial.
African leaders pay their tributes
Words of condolence have come in from all over the globe, particularly Africa, eulogising the person of Rawlings, including his days as a military ruler.
African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said: “Africa has lost a stalwart of Pan-Africanism and a charismatic continental statesman.”
While Liberian President George Weah said: “Ghana, Liberia and Africa will miss a great leader. Liberia remembers his immense contribution to the attainment and sustainment of peace during our dark days of our own history,” he said in a tweet.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said: “The entire African Continent will sorely miss the sterling qualities of the great leader. 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.”
Mr Rawlings, 73, was born in 1947 to a Scottish father and Ghanaian mother. He attended the prestigious Achimota School, after which he enlisted into the Ghana Armed Forces, where he trained to become an Air Force pilot.