Throwback photos: The Moment Rawlings Was Sentenced To Death By Akuffo (photos)

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Wednesday, 24th November 2021

Jerry John Rawlings was born on 22nd June 1947 to Madam Victoria Agbotui of blessed memory and Mr. James John, a Scotish man. He attended Mercy Sam School and later to Achimota School where he obtained his 'O' level certificate in 1966.

During his days in Achimota School, he had an encounter with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who at the time was a Prime Minister of Ghana. He was motivated by the first Ghanaian prime minister to join the military. After Achimota School Jerry John Rawlings joined Ghana Airforce and become a pilot.

He graduated as commissioned Pilot Officer in 1969 and won the highest "Speed Bird Trophy" and best airforce cadet for the flying training school. In 1978 he rose to the rank of Flight-Lieutenant.

On May 28, 1979, Flt. Lt. Rawlings and six other military officers attempted a coup d'etat on Gen. Akuffo Government but failed. They were arrested and taken to court.

Rawlings justified the coup and accused the government of corruption and hardship. He also told the court to leave the other six and hold him alone responsible because everything was his idea. The court sentenced Rawlings to death by firing squad on June 7, 1979.

But a group of junior army officers helped J.J. Rawlings to escape from prison after which he successfully removed the ruling Supreme Millitary Council Government.

Shortly after, he staged a successful overthrow of Akuffo's Supreme Military Council (SMC) government who had taken over from General Acheampong in a coup d'etat three years earlier.

Rawlings formed the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) which ruled for 112 days before handing over power to Dr. Hilla Liman. During the 112 days rule by AFRC, Rawlings order the execution of eight military officers by firing squad.

They include Generals Kotei, Joy Amedume, Roger Felli, and Utuka. Three former heads of state including Afrifa who overthrew Kwame Nkrumah, Acheampong and Gen. Akuffo were also excuted.

Two years after he handed over power to the 4th republican president, Rawlings staged a second coup d'etat on 31st December 1981 citing poor economic management as a reason for overthrowing the constitution.

At that time, foreign debt was high and inflation was around 140%. This caused a lot of public unrest giving way for the successful coup d'etat. This time around he formed the Peoples National Defence Council (PNDC) to rule Ghana.

Between 1983 and 1987, Rawlings survived five coup attempts. But the economy under Rawlings went through serious economic challenges which made him start to seek help from IMF. IMF help him introduce some austerity measures and economic recovery plan for Ghana. Finally, they pushed him to move Ghana from military regime to democracy.

In 1992 Rawlings put together a commission to put together the 1992 Constitution of Ghana which ushered Ghana into the Fourth Republic.

Rawlings formed a new party, National Democratic Congress (NDC) which won the 1992 and 1996 elections.

After his two terms expired on 7th January 2001, he handed over peacefully to John Agyekum Kuffour who won the 2000 election for the New Patriotic Party.

Rawlings remained a statesman until his demise on 12th November 2020. He was survived by a wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings and four children. May his soul rest in peace.

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