Papa Jay, Rest In Peace
One of my favourite biblical chapters is Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1-8. To save my noble readers from the tortuous burden of searching for the chapter under reference, I am forced to quote it verbatim:
“To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven; A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to get and a time to lose; a time to keep silence and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate, a time of war and a time of peace”.
Yes, indeed, there is time for everything under the Sun. It appears God has given Death, the Leveler, a special mandate to go strictly according to the dictates of the Divine Time Table. Thus, Death has been very fruitful to this mandate, no matter who you are, where you come from, what you will be doing at the time of his arrival, etc.
As reported, at about 10.30 am on Thursday, November 12, 2020, Death arrived with his gloomy palanquin to execute his mandate.
He silently snatched Flt. Lt. (rtd) Jerry John Rawlings, a former President of the Republic of Ghana, to the shock of the nation and international communities.
The late former President came to be in the political limelight, when he staged a Revolution on June 4, 1979, at a time there was rot in the country. The military rulers, obviously, have not been able to arrest the high incidence of corrupt activities in the country. Traders were selling their goods exorbitantly, while others hoarded theirs and only sold them at high profits to those they knew. A meandering queue of consumers was “common sight at trading centres”. That was the period when such terms as “Kalabule” (daring cheating) and “Gyinabu” (instant cheating) were coined.
Perhaps, due to the fact that the cancer of corrupt activities had eaten deep into Ghanaian society, the June 4 Revolution with its alluring agenda of probity and Accountability, drew a large following, especially, the youth.
In order to make profitable use of the good number of supporters of his Revolution, late Jerry John Rawlings applied the theory of leadership by example by leading the youth to evacuate many bags of dried cocoa beans, which had piled up in the hinterlands. He was also found in choked gutters desilting them to enhance environmental hygiene.
Despite his serious approach to national issues, the late Jerry Rawlings had a soft spot in his heart for humour. One incident clearly stands out to confirm this. One day, during the period of his leadership as Chairman of the then Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) he visited Kumasi. I was then an employee of a state mouthpiece. Our Regional Head was the one who interpreted Jerry’s speech in the English language to Twi at the then Jackson’s Park near the Prempeh Assembly Hall.
At a point in his speech, Jerry believed the interpreter had wrongly translated what he said. He therefore, shouted out in Twi: “Me nua, wo boa, manka no saa!” (My brother, you lie, I did not say that!) This drew up a ripple of laughter among the gathering.
Jerry also loved TRUTH. That disposition for truth in his life was manifest, when, at the very point of emotional pain, he asked one off his most trusted friends, the late AmarteyKwei, who had been tied to the stake to face a firing squad for his role in the murder of the three High Court Judges and a retired army officer.
“Tell me, was Captain Tsikata involved in the conspiracy to (murder the three High Court Judges and the retired Army officer)? – People’s Daily Graphic, Monday, August 22, 1983.
The background to that episode, as reported by the People’s Daily Graphic of Monday, August 22, 1983, headlined “AMARTEY KWEI’S LAST WORDS”:
“Joachim AmarteyKwei, 32, former PNDC Member who was found guilty of conspiring to murder three High Court Judges and a retired Army Major, in his final minutes before being executed by firing squad at dawn on Thursday, August 18, asked that captain Kojo Tsikata, Special Adviser to the PNDC, to forgive him for trying to implicate him in the murder case.
“In a tape recorded conversation between Amartey Keri and the Leader of the Revolution, Flt. Lt. J. J. Rawlings, lasting for about two minutes, the former said: ‘Tell the Captain to forgive me’.
“This was after the Chairman had asked Kwei whether Captain Tsikata was involved in the conspiracy to murder the victims. For three times, Flt. Lt. Rawlings asked Kwei: “Tell me, was Captain Tsikata involved in the conspiracy?” and for the same number of times, Kwei answered in the negative, ‘No sir.”
My personal observation of late Rawlings is that he had good intentions for the country, especially for the downtrodden who had been clothed in a mantle of abject poverty, while those at the helm of national affairs, their relatives, friends and concubines were drowned in untold wealth. And he thought the trend could be dealt with through a revolution without bloodshed.
Those around him, however, betrayed him and forced him to take decisions very unpleasant to his kind disposition, such as the executions that took place during the reign of PNDC.
Yes, like all women-born human beings, Flt. Lt. (rtd) J. J. Rawlings of blessed memory had his own faults, but l am not prepared to touch them on the grounds that there is no human perfection in this world and, even, the Holy Angels will be hesitant in glorifying themselves with the tag of perfection. This does not, however, give licence to others, especially, power-drunk politicians, who are so desperate that they throw decency to the winds, to behave like an ill-bred child.
Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings has completed his journey from womb to tomb; it has been a successful journey during which Gracious God honoured him with four intelligent children to take care of their mother while he is away, till they all meet again during the resurrection.
JERRY, REST IN PEACE IN THE SERENE BOSOM OF YOUR CREATOR.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Chronicle’s editorial stance