FORMER Ghanaian president John Jerry Rawlings has passed away at the age of 72 at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra apparently from complications associated with the Covid-19 virus.
A flight lieutenant of the Ghanaian Air Force, Rawlings first staged military coup as a young revolutionary on May 15, 1979, five weeks before scheduled elections to return the country to civilian rule. When it failed, he was imprisoned, publicly court-martialed and sentenced to death but was later pardoned.
After handing power over to a civilian government, he took back control of the country on December 31 1981 as the chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC). Rawlings then led a military junta until 1992 and then served two terms as the democratically elected president of Ghana.
As a civilian president between 1993 and 2001, Rawlings rebuilt the Ghanaian economy and then handed over to the opposition party candidate who won in the December 2000 elections. Only last month, he buried his mother Madam Victoria Agbotui, who passed away at the ripe old age of 101.
Born on June 22, 1947, Rawlings was the son of a Scottish diplomat posted to serve in Ghana and a Ghanaian mother. He was fondly called Junior Jesus by many Ghanaians who appreciated the reforms he introduced in the country as his initials were JJ.