Jerry Rawlings was born on 22nd June 1947 and is the former Flight Lieutenant of the Ghana Air Force who led a coup in Ghana 1979 and became the country’s head of state. Jerry Rawlings at the age of 6 had a dream of being a pilot.
“I wanted to fly from the age of 6,” Rawlings exclaimed. But his mother’s wishes were for him to become a doctor or a scientist. This never deterred him, he pursued his dream nonetheless. In March 1968, Rawlings studied aviation and graduated in January 1969. He was commissioned as a pilot officer, winning the coveted “Speed Bird Trophy” as the best cadet in flying and airmanship. In May 1979, Rawlings together with six other soldiers were arrested by the Ghanaian Militia for a coup attempt on the government of General Fred Akuffo. He appeared in court and made an unforgettable speech and said, “I am not an expert in economics, and I am not an expert in law. But I am an expert in working on an empty stomach while wondering when and where the next meal will come from. I know what it feels like going to bed with a headache, for want of food in the stomach.
While awaiting execution, Rawlings was sprung from custody on 4th June 1979 by a group of soldiers. “In 1979, I was almost 10 years when I heard the National Anthem and was made to understand that a new party had taken over but we had no idea who was leading it. A helicopter landed and Jerry Rawlings alighted! We all screamed J.J, J.J!”Lois Tettey – Ghanaian entrepreneur recalled. Upon his release from prison he was made president. As the President, Rawlings did not mind getting his hands dirty by working and therefore people admired him and saw him as a role model. “I remember in one of the pictures I saw him cleaning the gutters and people were standing next to him wondering how a man of his caliber would do such,” Doris Addy a retired Civil servant said.
“The difference between Kwame Nkrumah and Rawlings is that Kwame wanted things to be done yesterday while Rawlings wanted them done immediately,” K.B. Asante reiterated. In 1993, President Jerry Rawlings received the Human Award on behalf of the People of Ghana. Rawlings did not only dedicate his Award to Ghana, but he also donated the prize money of $50,000 to be used as the seed money for the establishment of University of Development Studies (UDS).
Back in 1981, Rawlings together with civilian and mercenary soldiers led in the removal of President Hilla Limann in another coup. In Rawlings first official subsequent speech to the removal of Hilla Limann, he announced the process of returning multi-party elections, something which up to date is admired of him by the people of Ghana. He also pioneered in the drafting of the constitution that has seen Ghana remain as one of the most stable African states in the continent.
When presidential elections were held in 1992, Rawlings won in a landslide victory silencing his critics. Per his constitutional mandate, Rawlings term of office ended in 2001 and was succeeded by John Kufuor. Rawlings is married to Nana Konadu with whom they have 3 daughters namely, Ezanetor Rawlings, Yaa Rawlings, Amina Rawlings and one son, Kimathi Rawlings. “I noticed him because he was very visible and bullied us though we were in the same class. I never thought we would come this far,” Rawling’s wife said. Rawlings loved his children so much that he didn’t get attached to them emotionally. His reason being, to avoid leaving them grieving in the case he would face any harm from his rivals. Surprisingly, Rawlings had the passion for art but his artistic nature was unknown to many. Interestingly, he prefers to be remembered as an artist or a pilot than a president.