“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die”, says Ecclesiastes 3: 1 and 2.
Seventy-three years ago, the time for Ghana’s first president in the fourth republic to be born came. Alas! The other dreaded time has unfortunately come.
Such has been the life of former President Jerry John Rawlings, whose demise has thrown the country into a state of mourning.
The former Flight Lieutenant of the Ghana Air Force died at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra yesterday morning after a brief period of illness.
The Ghanaian Times like many other Ghanaians is saddened by the sudden demise of the former President, who has impacted the country’s political landscape in so many ways.
We, therefore, join the rest of the country to commiserate with the family and wish them well in these difficult moments.
Indeed, not everyone is a fan of the political life of the country’s longest-serving Head of State, who was popularly referred to as ‘Papa J’ and occasionally ‘Dr Boom’ due to his outspoken nature.
But love or loathe him, he birthed the fourth republic and the country’s 28-year-old democratic dispensation, which has been the toast of many African countries.
Aside from the probity, accountability and transparency values which the charismatic former President often preached, he stood for self-discipline and selflessness, two values worth emulating.
The man we eulogise today was born in Accra on June 22, 1947, to Victoria Agbotui from Dzelukope, near Keta, in the Volta Region, and James Ramsey John, a Scottish.
The old student of Achimota School enlisted as a Flight Cadet in the Ghana Air Force in August 1967 passed out in January 1969, as a commissioned Pilot Officer and earned the rank of Flight Lieutenant in April 1978.
He burst onto the political scene on May 15, 1979 when he led a group of junior officers in the Ghana Air Force in an unsuccessful coup d’etat, which led to his appearance before a General Court Martial in Accra on May 28.
On June 4, 1979, Flt. Lt. Rawlings was sprung from custody to lead a revolt which ousted the Supreme Military Council from office and brought the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) into being.
On September 24, 1979, the AFRC handed over to the civilian Government of the People’s National Party (PNP) under President Hilla Limann after an election had been held.
On December 31, 1981, Flt. Lt. Rawlings led a section of the Armed Forces to overthrow the PNP administration and established the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), composed of both civilian and military members.
Flt-Lt. Rawlings left the Ghana Armed Forces on September 14, 1992 to form the National Democratic Congress, which contested and won the 1992 Presidential elections. He ruled for two terms and handed over.
The political decisions of the former president have over the years attracted mixed reactions but in his absence, we have to focus on the values he epitomised while alive.
We need to keep such values close to our bosom and let it illuminate our life and path while we keep fond memories of him in our minds. He played his role in the way he deemed best. It is left with us to do our part.
Once again, we extend our sympathies to his family, especially his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, and his four children, including the Member of Parliament for Klottey Korle Constituency, Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings.
Rest in peace, former President Rawlings. Ghana has lost a gem.