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  • Writer's picturestephannie Adinde

Development Digest: Jerry John Rawlings (22 June 1947 – 12 November 2020)

Ghana’s Ex President, Jerry John (JJ) Rawlings has died at 73.

Rawlings was born in Accra on the 22nd of June 1947, to a Ghanaian mother and a Scottish father. He was educated at the prestigious Achimota, a boarding school based on the British model in Accra. He then joined the Air Force, where he rose to the rank of flight lieutenant.⠀ ⠀ Rawlings was a charismatic and controversial leader who played a pivotal role in Ghana’s political awakening and transition to a stable democracy. But, he left behind a complicated legacy as he was loved and loathed by many. ⠀

He first gained global prominence in May 1979 when he tried to overthrow the regime of Lieut. Gen. Frederick W.K. Akuffo and the Supreme Military Council. This attempt was thwarted by the General and landed Rawlings in jail. Shortly after, Rawlings was released by his fellow officers and quickly took charge of the Government. ⠀ ⠀ Rawlings relinquished power soon after, handing over to civilian rule, but he organized another coup two years later in a bid to rid Ghana of corruption and weak political leadership. Rawlings led the country for 20 years after his second coup. He left office in 2001, after being democratically elected as president twice. Many working class Ghanaians often cite Rawlings as one of Ghana’s best presidents.⠀ ⠀ He died in the Korle bu Teaching Hospital in Accra on Thursday morning.⠀

The West African country has declared 7 days of national mourning and suspended all election campaign activities to honour the former President.⠀ ⠀ In the words of current President Nana Akufo-Addo, “A great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss.” ⠀

Thanks for reading,


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