A year after his passing, Ghana’s revolutionary icon, JJ Rawlings, is fondly remembered by Ghanaians, Africans and people elsewhere who appreciated his hard stance against corruption.
This is evident from the messages pouring in from within Ghana, Africa and beyond, in commemoration of the first anniversary of his demise.
The name Rawlings became synonymous with anti-corruption right from the onset of his appearance on the Ghanaian political stage. It remained throughout his reign as a military leader, when he became a democratically elected President, during the years after his eight years in office, and still remains so.
This stemmed from his unwavering insistence that corruption was the bane of any nation’s development. For that reason, he ruthlessly dealt with corrupt politicians and administrators.
It was this abhorrence for corruption that twice led him to take up arms with patriots from the rank and file of the Ghana Armed Forces to oust corrupt regimes of soldiers on June 4th 1979 and civilians on 31st December 1981.
He laid down the arms to accept the democratic process, albeit unwillingly. He won two terms as an elected President that confounded his detractors.
Rawlings refused to fidget with the 1992 Constitution to cling on to power beyond the two terms permitted. Many of those who made it a habit to disparage him were left speechless when he handed over peacefully to the opposition that won the 2000 elections.
This was a huge credit to him and gained him international admiration. This singular action has undoubtedly contributed to the peaceful democratic dispensation Ghana has since enjoyed!
The political stability in Ghana has in a way contributed to increasing democratization in the subregion, in spite of pockets of dictatorships. Some instances of the suppression of the will of the people have seen the reemergence of the phenomenon of military overthrows.
Some political analysts wonder whether the Ghanaian revolutionary leader would have approved of these military takeovers if he were alive today. What we can be sure of with his history as a guide would be that he would chastise any corrupt civilian government, and call for cleansing of the system, be it in Ghana with a government formed by his own Party or other, or a government anywhere in the sub region. To him, the greed of politicians have always left the mass of the people in immense economic hardships.
As we remember Rawlings today, we are not just remembering a dynamic anti-graft leader, who walked the surface of the earth. Rather, he is more significantly being celebrated as an institution that will hopefully stand the test of time.
Rawlings as an institution is not only about the brave fight to uproot corruption: it is also one that essentially embodies the respect for human dignity, especially of the DOWNTRODDEN.
It is for the latter reason that our people dwelling in huts in the remotest miss him sorely. They will always remember him for extending electricity to the rural communities.
In view of all that he stood for and did, it will be an understatement to say Rawlings’ example is worth emulating.
Ghana, Africa and, indeed, the world at large will hopefully remember him for a long time.
May His Soul Rest In Perfect Peace.
Columnist: Kwabena Anafo