History will be kind to Rawlings!

Rawlings Boss?fit=470%2C313&ssl=1 The late Former President Jerry John Rawlings

Sun, 6 Dec 2020 Source: Kennedy Adjei

The recent death of former President Rawlings came as a shock to Ghanaians given that he was full of life and vigor and showed little sign of deteriorating health. He came across as a man aging gracefully and with his mother recently dying at an advanced age of 101, most Ghanaians thought he was not about to exit the world anytime soon.

As a twice coup maker who transitioned to become a democratically elected leader, he understandably became a loved and loathed figure in equal measure. On his unfortunate passing, this piece assesses his flaws and the valuable contribution he’s made to today’s Ghana in order to properly position him in a historical context.

Former President Rawlings’ military government (PNDC) unleashed a reign of terror on Ghanaians killing many of his perceived opponents, destroying many indigenous businesses because he thought they were a threat to his power as well as forcing others to flee the country into exile.

Naturally, this earned him many enemies. In fact, one can perfectly understand those who cannot find a place in their hearts to forgive him particularly his direct victims and their descendants.

However, as a young leader, Chairman Rawlings faced a daunting task in rebuilding the nation. Besides widespread corruption, most of our key professionals had left the country to seek greener pastures following the series of coup d'etats in the 70s. We had to take in about a million Ghanaian returnees deported from Nigeria.

We faced the worst bush fires in 1983 which exacerbated the situation. Ghana’s economy was simply in tartars was grinding to halt. In the likes of P.V. Obeng, Obed Asamoah, Justice D.F. Annan, the Ahwoi brothers, Tsatsu Tsikata, and others he assembled some of the best minds to advise and guide him and then steadily led the country out of the severe crisis.

He understood the mood of the nation at critical moments and reacted appropriately - i.e. embracing market economy (private enterprise) and democracy. He eventually left sound democratic institutions in place which has ensured this unprecedented stability in the country’s history.

At the prime age of 53 and still, at the height of his popularity, Rawlings did invaluable service to the nation by resisting the temptation to stay on as the likes of Kagame, Ouattara, Museveni among others have been doing today. Institutions develop a nation.

The founding fathers of America are not held in high esteem because they put up impressive edifices but because they laid down enduring institutions that have ensured their creativity and outstanding development. I believe it is this realization that our current president, H.E. Nana Akufo Addo, has come to and thus made peace with him (President Rawlings) and actually becoming the best of friends even though they had fiercely opposed each other in the past.

In due course, if we're able to tweak our democratic institutions and make them responsive to the needs of our people and build a sound and resilient economy as a result, I have no doubt that JJ will have a much greater place in our history.

May the good Lord accept his soul. Fare thee well, President Rawlings.

Columnist: Kennedy Adjei
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