Former President of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings was on Wednesday buried at the Military Cemetery, Accra after a four-day state funeral programmes,
Speaking at the funeral service at the Independence Square, Accra before the interment, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said: “Rawlings burst onto the scene like a meteor, but a meteor that did not burst into flames and disintegrate like all meteors do. On the contrary, it remained potent until the very end of its life, leaving strong footprints in the sands of time.”
President Akufo-Addo recalled the turbulent occurrences of the 1970s in Ghana – which covered the military era and culminated in the emergence of Flt. Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings in the political space of Ghana.
He described Rawlings as a charismatic, energetic, fearless leader. “Such were the attributes ascribed by many Ghanaians to the man, Jerry John Rawlings, the young air force officer, who announced his presence in Ghana’s politics by the abortive coup of May 15, 1979, and was sentenced to death for his part in the failed effort. He gave, at his trial, an important insight into his character, when he stood up, before the military tribunal, to accept sole responsibility for the attempt, and to request the NCOs, who were being tried with him, to be absolved and freed by the tribunal.
“The great events that were to define his career followed quickly after his trial, conviction and sentence. Three weeks later, whilst awaiting execution of his sentence, he was dramatically freed from prison by the insurgents of what has come to be known as the June 4th Uprising, when junior officers and other ranks of the Ghana Armed Forces banded together to throw out the Supreme Military Council, and install the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), headed by Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings, thereafter ‘J.J’ to all and sundry in Ghana. It is no wonder that he came to regard June 4th as “that divine day,” he said.
According to President Akufo-Addo, Rawlings actions were not limited to Ghana only as the African nationalist, he held unwavering positions on all matters concerning the wider continent of Africa, especially when they involved foreign interference and control of Africa’s destiny, and was quick to voice his views on them.
“His chairmanship of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government set the example, whereby virtually all his successors, John Agyekum Kufuor, John Dramani Mahama, and I, the 2nd, 4th and 5th Presidents, respectively, of the 4th Republic, have been honoured by their peers with the occupancy of that high office, reinforcing the pan-African vocation which has been an essential element of Ghanaian public policy since independence.
“I believe that history, on balance, will be kind to him, and will render a positive verdict on his contribution to the evolution of our nation, and the entrenchment of its democratic institutions and culture. It is entirely appropriate and fitting that he should receive a State Funeral with full honours to express the gratitude of the nation for that contribution,” he said.
He announced that the renaming of the University of Development Studies, Tamale, (UDS), which he, personally, helped establish.
Earlier, in her farewell speech, the wife of late President Rawlings, Mrs. Agyeman-Rawlings, gave vivid accounts of their journey into marriage, their marital and family life till death and stated that from 1983 to 1992, she worked assiduously on empowering the Ghanaian woman.
“Jerry, I know that God created us for each other and together we made a formidable team, notwithstanding the ups and down of life.
“We believed each other and in our dream of making Ghana a country we could all be proud of, one to set the pace for our sub-region and the continent. I daresay, we did not do a bad job!”
“As you worked assiduously on state matters, I concentrated on empowering the women and improving the quality of life for them irrespective of their origins or creed.
“We were a team, fighting to transform a collapsed state into one of potential prosperity for all,” she said.
“To me, you were and always will be Jerry, My love, my life partner, my friend, you were for Ghana and then for me,” she added.
There were tributes by the National Democratic Congress, which Rawlings founded, the Ghanaian military during the state funeral service at the Independence Square, Accra, which was attended by many dignitaries, including Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and his wife Samira.
Others were Mr. Alban Bagbin, the Speaker of Parliament; Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, former Presidents: John Agyekum Kufuor and John Dramani Mahama, senior government officials, representatives of African governments and members of the diplomatic community.