OPINION: GHANA: A Mournful Nation Tries To Come To Terms With Veteran Leader's Sudden Death
Ghana, a bastion of democracy on a troubled continent goes to the polls in three weeks time, but the sudden death of her longtime leader, Jerry John Rawlings this past week seems set to ensure that the controversial leader's image continues to loom large over the country at large and the upcoming polls even in death.
Rawlings dominated political life in Ghana for almost two decades, coming on twice as a Military strongman and finally as a civilian leader.
Growing up, I never though I would know any other leader apart from him, just like his friend and contemporary, the late Cuban leader,Fidel Castro,his stronghold over the country for most part of his rule ensured that he was an ever present feature in our consciousness.
Images of the charismatic ruler in his favourite military fatigues, either taking part in communal activities with the citizenry,addressing the nation on pertinent national issues and reviewing national parades dominated the state owned print and electronic media.
But a combination of factors and circumstances ensured that Rawlings returned the country to democracy. going on to rule as a democratic leader for eight of the toddling years of the fourth republic.
His crowning glory came when he surprisingly ceded power to John Kufuor of the then opposition NPP, who had come out triumphant in elections held at the twilight of Rawlings's rule.this singular act by Rawlings boosted his international image and placed him in the exclusive league of the few African leaders who yielded power without compulsion.
days to Rawlings' death,images of him in a very mournful and reflective mood at his mother's funeral dominated social media. They showed a man gutted and broken at the death of his beloved mum,an image hardly associated with the tough guy during his long years in national politics. Months to her death, Rawlings had spoken fondly of his mum in a wide ranging interview with Veteran Journalist, Kweku Sakyi-Addo.
There would be another opportunity to dissect the impact of Rawlings on Ghana, without thought his impact was heavy and would be difficult to erase.
For now one would hope that the calm that his death,as unfortunate as it is has foisted on the nation, will hold the desperate political elite in check as we head to the polls and ensure that they tone down the acidic political rhetoric in reverence to the departed statesman. The next few weeks will be telling! For now, may the soul of Jerry John Rawlings continue to rest in peace!
Credit: Rodney Tsenuokpor
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