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Opinions of Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Columnist: Alhaji Abdul-Rahman Harruna Attah

Rawlings: A few words of farewell

John Dramani Mahama and the late former President, Jerry John Rawlings John Dramani Mahama and the late former President, Jerry John Rawlings


The commentary below is taken from my book “Awhene Pa Nkasa. Standing with JDM”. Published on August 28 this year, less than three months to JJ’s last breath, the book is about the leadership of, and insights into the tenure of President Mahama during his first term. The shortest chapter in the book – Chapter 35 – comments on the late JJ.

Looking back now, did it have elements of prescience, premonition or whatever…? After writing so much on the late Chairman/President, not always on friendly terms, could the following words stand as my own way of waving goodbye or testament to this enigmatic man?

Chapter 35

Peace Pipe

“President Rawlings is too significant a player to ignore in any narration on the Ghanaian story. He has lovers and haters in equal measure. Different people approach him from different angles. I spent a considerable portion of my commentary and editorial writing taking issue with him, so did other colleagues of mine. Newspaper vendors were constantly telling us that his name sold newspapers and indeed some newspapers constantly had him on their front pages. In this book, references to him are only making scratches on the surface and in no way can claim to be presenting anything exhaustive. People who know him well, attest to his humorous and fun-loving side.
See The Trial of J.J. Rawlings: Echoes of the 31st December Revolution by Kojo Yankah; J.J. Rawlings and the Democratic Transition in Ghana by Professor Kwaku-Danso-Boafo; It Takes A Woman by Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings; Working with Rawlings by Professor Kwamena Awhoi and archives of the Ghanaian media.

2019 ended on an encouraging note. At the 31st December 2019 celebration of the coup of 1981, it was all smiles as founder and presidential candidate seemed to be singing at last from the same proverbial hymn book. The reports optimistically put it that the founder and presidential candidate had smoked the peace pipe. But seriously, were they really at war? If they actually smoked a peace pipe, it is an initiative President Rawlings, President Mahama, and the NDC must seize and run with. The dividend would be incalculable. But would the NPP, for as long as they can use him to do damage to the NDC also let him go? The jostling for Rawlings for Election 2020 is on!

Mrs. Rawlings’ NDP cannot do any serious damage to the NDC, but her husband, the founder, still has the potential. He is holding his ballot paper well out of public sight, but who would he give it to John Mahama, Nana Akufo-Addo, or Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings?

My concluding assessment: Rawlings would be served better by the NDC and the NDC would definitely benefit from Rawlings’s loyalty and support. He is too important in Ghana’s politics to be written off.
And so, well…”


Now he is gone. As he awaits his final farewell in the form of a state funeral, the country, I know, is also introspecting. This is a man who enjoyed the longest tenure in our history – one year short of 20 years. His foot and thumbprints are stamped everywhere. Some of the tears flowing are genuine and heartfelt, but I also cannot help but witness the opportunism, dishonesty, and hypocrisy of others. Death comes to all of us and moments like this one, I hope, will set us contemplating our own individual mortalities. Travel safe, Mr. Rawlings.