BBC is reporting Ghana’s former president Jerry “J.J. Rawlings has died after a brief illness at a hospital in Accra. Rumors are swirling that the charasmatic leader who came to power after leading two coups and then being elected President twice, died of complications from Covid-19, although an official cause of death has not been announced.
Jerry John Rawlings was born on June 22, 1947, in Accra to James Ramsey John, a Scottish chemist, and Victoria Agbotui. He was educated at Achimota, a prestigious boarding school in the British model in Accra. He enlisted in the Air Force, where he excelled in airmanship, and reached the rank of flight lieutenant.
Although he was a Socialist during his early political career, Rawlings eventually made free market reforms, eventually becoming a founding father of democracy in Ghana. Following his presidency, Rawlings campaigned for African Nations to have their debts forgiven.
Several African Presidents expressed grief while announcing Rawlings death on Twitter.
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, who is from a rival political party and currently running against Rawlings’ wife Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, announced seven days of national mourning.
“A great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss,” he said in a statement.
African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said “Africa has lost a stalwart of Pan-Africanism and a charismatic continental statesman”.
While Liberian President George Weah said “Ghana, Liberia and Africa will miss a great leader”.
“Liberia remembers his immense contribution to the attainment and sustainment of peace during our dark days of our own history,” he added in a tweet.