The late former President clad in his No. 1 Air Force Officers uniform
The final burial and funeral rites of former President Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings commenced on Sunday evening as thousands mourned Ghana’s longest serving leader.
Yesterday at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) where he was laid in state, thousands of people visited the venue to bid him farewell amid weeping.
A Catholic requiem mass was held for the late former President Jerry John Rawlings at that the Roman Catholic Cathedral, Asylum Down, on Sunday.
The spiritual ritual was one of the highlights in the run-up to tomorrow’s military burial for the former Ghana Air Force pilot who passed on recently.
After a certain level of hiatus following the former President’s transition, the final programme lineup for his burial brought to the front burner once more issues about how the country was going to pay its last respects to the ex-air force pilot.
Most Ghanaians are watching his funeral live on television, while others preferred to visit the venue to pay their last respect.
The Covid-19 restriction is, however, making it impossible for many more people to gather at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) where he is being laid in state.
President Akufo-Addo and his wife, Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia and his spouse, Samira Bawumia, were the prominent dignitaries spotted during the solemn Catholic spiritual activity for the dead on Sunday.
Widow & Children
Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, the widow of the deceased, and their four children were all present during the requiem mass.
On the side of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), former President John Mahama, his running mate – Prof Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, NDC’s General Secretary – Johnson Asiedu Nketia and the National Chairman of the NDC – Ofosu Ampofo among others graced the occasion to mourn the founder of the party.
Earlier, the Ghana Air Force Officers Mess on the Giffard Road close to the El Wak Stadium in Accra hosted the remains of the former pilot for a vigil held in his honour.
Many television stations organised discussion programmes in honour of the former President.
Following the requiem mass, the remains of the former President were conveyed to the AICC for the initial restricted filing past activity. According to the programme, yesterday’s filing past was meant for heads of the security agencies including the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS).
Also partaking in yesterday’s AICC filing past were traditional leaders and leaders of the political parties.
Today being Tuesday, the President, the Vice President, Speaker of Parliament and heads of constitutional institutions among others will take their turns at the AICC to pay respect to their former President.
Today the prominence of the AICC will be de-emphasised as the remains of former President Rawlings are transferred to the Black Star Square prior to the military funeral earmarked for him prior to final interment.
Before that, however, his family and the CDS among others will take their turn to pay their last respect to him.
Like others before him, the deceased evoked different impressions among Ghanaians. Whereas some consider him a hero who did a lot for the country, others do not acquiesce with this score sheet. Be it as it may, many shed tears for the man whose death for them came rather soon.
Children of the military generals who were executed in the heat of the uprising which brought him to limelight do not have charitable words for the deceased and will join other hundreds sitting on the fence as a state funeral is being organised for a man who metamorphosed from coup maker to a constitutional head of state.
History as a controversial subject has varied interpretations, each entry different from the others.
Group Captain, Richard Fordjour (Rtd), a close associate of the late ex-President, said the book titled ‘Working with Rawlings’ authored by Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi, which appeared to put the former President in a bad light, hit him hard in his last days.
“In his very last days, he felt betrayed. That book that was written and the response from those he worked with really hit him very hard. We did our very best to restrain him from responding but it was a big blow to him. Then came the mum’s death, and that also hit him very hard and getting the benefit of hindsight, his last days were not the best aside from the medical condition that deteriorated,” he said during a vigil at the Air force Officers Mess in honour of ex-President Rawlings who was an Air force Pilot.
His eldest daughter, Dr. Zenator Rawlings, the MP for Klottey Korley, who has been granting the main interviews, eulogised her father on BBC yesterday, saying he stood for the ordinary people.
She said the country and the family had lost a very ‘practical’ person who was insistent on getting things done for the good of all.