Opinions Fri, 13 Nov 2020

My memories of former President Rawlings

If you ask me to talk about Rawlings, I won’t know where to start, how to start, where to end and how to end.

Just read “Ghana and the Rawlings Factor, 1992” by Kevin Shillington to appreciate his enigmatic persona. You will appreciate his

- House Cleaning Exercise under the AFRC

- His selflessness during the abortive coup of May 15, 1979, and how he asked that the soldiers who had been arrested with him be freed while he stand the trial and be executed alone

- His introduction of Probity and Accountability to Ghana’s political lexicon

- His patriotism and identification with the masses, where he could naturally flow with very ordinary people, eat with them and descend in the gutters to desilt choke rubbish from them

- His foundership of the Fourth Republic at a time that he could have resisted the pressures from within and outside the country and damned the consequences

- His integrity and the fact that he is the most charismatic leader ever in Ghana, after Kwame Nrumah.

- His contribution to Ghana’s socio-economic and political development comes only next to Nkrumah

In 1995, when I was in 6th Form, I was standing at Madina Zongo junction looking for a car home, after my private classes at the Crown College, when Rawlings stopped his convoy heading towards Peduase, got down himself and bought roasted plantain and groundnuts. The old lady, upon seeing that it was Rawlings wanted to dash all the plantain being roasted to him. But Rawlings insisted and paid for what he bought.

Two years ago, I had the privilege of joining a group of researchers to go interview him at his residence. When we got there, we realized he wasn’t well and wanted to reschedule. But he insisted on talking to us until his doctors showed up. He was a man who could endure pain and smile.

I criticized him on several occasions when Prof Mills was President. I was therefore scared for my life when my research on Democratic Devolution, forced me to go meet him face to face in his house. But he only smiled, when I introduced myself.

He may not have completed his autobiography but I think there are much documentations on him, particularly his positives, in the book I mentioned above. Young people should read for knowledge of our political history.
Columnist: Prof Ransford Gyampo