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Opinions Fri, 4 Jun 2010

Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings: The Man Of The People!

Besides Dr Kwame Nkrumah our first President, no political leader has had as much impact on Ghanaians as Jerry John Rawlings. He has influenced the lives and souls of Ghanaians more than any living politician today. He was a former air force officer, was twice the head of state of Ghana, and the first president of the fourth republic.

Jerry John Rawlings came in to the limelight during 1979 uprising and through that revolution, the collapsed bankrupt Ghana, which was nowhere on the world’s economic and political map, was finally welcomed and praised by the political world, and today Ghana is a beacon of democracy in Africa and beyond.

Flight lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings emerged from nowhere as a junior officer, who could not control his tender heart over social injustices and the total denial and alienation of the people, after the overthrow of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, by the UP/NPP sponsored military junta. Successive regimes after the 1966 coup supervised the total collapse of the country.

Everything Nkrumah was allowed to decay by his UP/PP/NPP enemies, while they enrich themselves and their families. People had to walk hundreds of miles away to seek medical care which was not available. As a result of the destruction and demonization of everything Nkrumah, series of coups emerged here and there but none was able to restore decency, and transformation to the people of Ghana.

Jerry John Rawlings was touched by the cries, hunger and the suffering of the people, especially the ordinary people who could not afford a ball of kenkey. His emergence after the 1979 coup sent a spontaneous jubilation to the people throughout the country. He was hailed and received by Ghanaians for his boldness and forthrightness. Some even called him Junior Jesus and the Saviour. His mission was to clear the mess and the rot in the system and to resurrect the collapsed Ghana.

Tax evasion, bribery and corruption, nepotism, social injustice and the entrenchment of the few in government, had been the order of the day, thereby crippling the economy and creating hardships and sufferings for the ordinary person. He called for radical and pragmatic change and transformation with his revolution and it really paid off and today Ghana is a beacon of democracy in Africa and beyond. Even when he took off his military uniform and contested multi party democratic election in 1992, he won massively to become the first president of the 4th republic of Ghana.

Indeed, Jerry Rawlings planted the tree of modern democracy in Ghana. His belief in social democracy as against the elitist, opulent quasi-democracy of the Danquah-Busias, made him the man of the people. He is adored, honored and cherished by many.

Like him, or loathe him, Jerry John Rawlings has served his nation well, and the best way he knew how. In 1992, he became acquiescent to political pluralism. In 2000, he conceded to a transition, which he personally supervised, and left our nation in one piece. As a pragmatist, and an astute leader, he understands African politics, and time to quit, if and when necessary, to preserve the achievements of the struggle against injustice.

Rawlings does not see democracy as just going to the polls and elect a government to lord over the people. Rawlings’s democracy is a social democratic system where power belongs to the people, where a social and judicial justice operates freely and independently, where resources and developments are distributed fairly and state property are protected from pilfering and looting.

It is irrefutable Rawlings is a paragon of greatness. You can choose to hate or love Rawlings; his legacy transcends the borders of Ghana. He is indeed a savior.

Emmanuel Dela Coffie

emmanuelcoffie488@yahoo.com / www.delacoffie.wordpress.com

Columnist: Coffie, Emmanuel Dela