Former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings died on Thursday 12th November, 2020 in Accra Ghana at the age of 73 following a short illness. In his tribute, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said “Africa has lost an icon and a great statesman whose contribution to peace and prosperity of the continent will be remembered for generations to come.”
Tanzanian President, John Magufuli said he was saddened by the passing of the former president. AU commission chairman Moussa Faki said Africa had lost a stalwart of pan-Africanism, and a charismatic Continental Statesman
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan described Rawlings as a “statesman and Pan-Africanist with strong views and drive for Africa’s renaissance and growth.”
Burundian president Evariste Ndayishimiye said the former leader will be remembered as an “inspiring leader”.
Liberian President George Weah said his nation will remember the “immense contribution” by Rawlings towards the attainment of peace in his country.
From junta to civilian rule
Before the elections in 1992, Rawlings established the National Commission on Democracy (NCD) and employed it to survey civilian opinion to facilitate a democratic transition. The NCD released a report recommending an executive president, establishing a national assembly and creating a prime minister post. This report paved the way for democracy in Ghana.
DW’s Eddy Micah Jr., a Ghanaian who was 12 years old when Ghana returned to civilian rule, said people respect Rawlings for ending the political chaos in Ghana and instilling discipline within the military. He is credited for bringing discipline to Ghana’s military
“The most remarkable thing that Ghanaians will remember Jerry Rawlings for is that he handed over power to a civilian moreover from the opposition something unheard of not only in Ghana but across Africa,” Micah said. “Ghanaians loved Jerry for his openness. He was honest in his dealings and in whatever he told party stalwarts or senior officials.”
Rawlings dreamed of transforming Ghana into a middle-income status like Singapore by 2020 and remained an influential king-maker after leaving office in 2001
In 1995, he presented a document to parliament he called Vision 2020. In it, he outlined an aggressive long-term plan that would improve his country’s human and economic growth, rural and urban development, as well as overhaul its infrastructure. The aim was to follow Singapore’s example. According to Rawlings, Singapore had transformed itself from a third-world country in the 1960s to a middle-income country in a short time. His dream, however, fell apart after his successor John Kuffour had different development plans.
After stepping down, Rawlings remained a power broker in Ghanaian politics while serving in various international diplomatic posts, including the African Union’s representative in Somalia. Before his death, Rawlings castigated African leaders who overstayed in power beyond their term limits. Citing Guinea’s Alpha Conde, Rawlings tweeted his disappointment in Conde. In May 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Rawlings joined other celebrities and personalities, including French actor Omar Sy and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in calling for assistance to deal with COVID-19.
“Africa is a continent of rich history, culture uniqueness and dynamism. Africa must rise above this as we have done with every previous challenge,” said Rawlings. “Together as one, I know we shall overcome, and if music is the food of love, let us play on.”