Ghana buries towering leader Rawlings with military honours

January 28, 2021
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General News of Thursday, 28 January 2021

Source: Daily Mail

The late Former President Jerry John Rawlings on a gun carriage play videoThe late Former President Jerry John Rawlings on a gun carriage

One after the other, representatives of world leaders and Ghanaians from all walks of life filed into the Black Star Square (Independence Square) to pay their last respects to a towering leader, Jerry John Rawlings, who held power for two decades in Ghana.

It was a solemn moment as the clergy prayed for the departed charismatic leader who died on 12 November 2020 aged 73 at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

He was laid to rest in the nation’s capital, Accra on Wednesday with full military honours, after a state funeral attended by people from all walks of life including representatives of leaders around the world.

With a coffin draped in Ghana’s national colours of red, yellow, green and black, and an officer’s cap placed at the head of the closed coffin with a glittering gold-plated sword, Rawlings – a former Airforce pilot – was given a guard of honour and a 21-gun salute at the Independence Square, symbol of Ghana’s victory over colonial Britain.

Hundreds of ordinary Ghanaians earlier this week paid their final respects as his coffin lay in state during two days of national mourning under strict COVID-19 protocols.

His widow Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings in her tribute said: “our foundation of love kept us together.”

“You took pride in your fatherly duties… you’re passionate and open-hearted. Your gift of sharing knew no bounds. You never hesitated to help in the passing of laws to protect the vulnerable in society. Jerry, I know that God created us for each other. You did your best and I played my part in our own ways,” she broke down in tears as her second daughter Princess Amina read out her tribute.

His daughter Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings said her father was “larger than life” and laid his life for the less privileged in society.

“Courageous and daring in everywhere, you stayed true to what you are. You were always a man of the people; your people. Whatever your fault, whatever your shortcomings you always thought about the health and wellbeing of others before yourself. And it’s such a shame that not every individual got to see or experience that. However, we take solace in the fact that enough hearts stood by you… Thank you for sharing your life with us. Your work is done and you’re free now… you’ll always be a warrior guardian,” she said.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo described Rawlings as “charismatic and fearless leader.”

Old-time foes and now acquaintances, Akufo-Addo said Rawlings “remained a good friend and a repository of sound advice” since he assumed office in 2017.

“It was no secret that the relationship that existed between the two of us… was one of open animosity. We did not see eye to eye. However, with time, things changed. We came to see value in each other, and understood, to a very large degree, our respective perspectives,” Akufo-Addo stated.

Papa J, as he was affectionately called, was buried at a military cemetery in Accra after a three-hour ceremony of tributes, prayers, cultural displays and songs. Among the dignitaries who attended the funeral include Liberian President, George Weah, and the Sierra Leonean President, Julius Maada Bio.

Rawlings was the longest-serving leader of the West African nation – 11 years as a military ruler from 1981 and later metamorphizing as a democratically elected president in 1992 handing over power peacefully after two terms of office in 2001.

Rawlings is survived by his wife of 43 years, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, who contested in the December polls as leader of her National Democratic Party. Together they have four children with the eldest child, Zanetor Rawlings, stepping in his political boots as opposition MP in Accra.

Rawlings’ record includes 300 documented extra-judicial executions. Up to his death he refused to offer any apologies or reparations to the families of his victims.

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