No matter how tall the Iroko tree grows, it never touches the sky. The words of this Nigerian adage were relived on Thursday, November 12, 2020, when the mighty Iroko tree of African politics fell. The day had started like every other but unknown to many, the tide was about to change; get violent and claim an important life.
By 1300WAT i.e. 1200GMT, a lot of Nigerians living in Ghana had been inundated with calls. Calls to verify the authenticity of the passing of Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings. One would wonder, which part of Nigeria this great man hails from that would demand so much concern from Nigerians in Nigeria.
God had blessed Ghana with the gift of the beautiful soul of President Rawlings but he’s not Ghanaian. A lot of African nations would gladly lay claim to him, including Nigerians. Watching him on TV in the 80s, his audacity and panache, he exuded the grace of a leader, a very inspiring one.
He demonstrated immense love for his nation, (which involved stepping on many toes at different times under his regime) and it is safe to say today that the extent to which Ghanaians love Ghana, could be due to his demonstration of love for this great nation and Ghana first, which he engraved in the minds of many.
He has the Charisma of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and the quality of an Eagle; foresight. His love for Ghana is undeniable. This mostly pitched him against political players even in his party. He saw a vision that many didn’t, couldn’t and even in death will not see.
Many Nigerians have experienced your greatness and selflessness. And we are glad you are a part of us. We claim you as a Nigerian and wish we could join in giving you the befitting burial that you deserve.
President Rawlings constantly demonstrated your love for Nigeria, evident in the continuous participation in our polity. During one of his visits to Nigeria in recent times, he spoke against tribal hatred, which indicates that he was in tune with Nigeria.
He constantly waded in and spoke in favour of peace and brotherliness between Nigeria and Ghana each time the recurring trade impasse reared its ugly head. President Rawlings, you are indeed a political figure that many Nigerians who experienced your leadership from far or near appreciate.
Nigeria in Diaspora Organisation, NIDO Ghana is sad that we have lost you but we console ourselves with the belief that “death ends life and not relationship.” We will continue to hold you dear in our hearts. We will relive every moment that individuals, NIDO Ghana and the collective of Nigerians have shared with you. And as Nigerians in Ghana, we will ensure that in our role, we continue to contribute to peace, tranquility and development in Ghana.
To Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, we encourage you to be strong, as you have always been. Your union and the support you are seen to give President Rawlings particularly during his days as a leader of the nation is enviable. It would have been more difficult to succeed without your support. It could feel like you have been ripped apart, but the strength with which you have supported our father, Jerry John Rawlings as First Lady, now is the time to evoke it. We encourage you to be strong!
To Ghanaians, we encourage everyone to look beyond the political differences and the hurt of the past. Events of the past, as unpleasant as it might have been to many, were tenable during that period. Like Archbishop Duncan Williams says, “he himself had some deep regrets.”
Let us remember the achievements of the fourth republic, the Ghanaian pride and the place of Ghana in the league of nations in Africa and beyond as we approach the polls on 7 December. Once again let Ghana win. Let the success of the elections be a befitting gift to President Rawlings, the founder of the fourth republic.
“President Rawlings was not African because he was born in Africa but because Africa was born in him.” Even in death, President Rawlings continues to be an asset to Africa.
As the popular saying goes, “one is only certain of death.”
Today we say, Flt. Lt. Akachukwu Oreoluwa Onetorishewoeete Jerry John Rawlings Sleep thee well.
Kingsley Ewa Attoe