Activities for the state funeral for Ghana’s former president, Jerry Rawlings, began on Sunday with a Requiem Mass at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Accra.
Later in the evening, there will be a vigil at the Air Force Officers’ Mess in the Ghanaian capital.
Giant portraits of the former President, who was a Flight Lieutenant in the Ghana Air Force, adorn the Accra International Conference Centre, where he will lie in state on Monday and Tuesday for various interest groups and members of the public to pay their last respects.
His maternal kinsmen, the Anlo Traditional Council, will host two days of mourning for the late leader. His father was from Scotland.
According to the funeral programme, Rawlings, 73, will receive a full military burial service on Wednesday, January 27, at the Independence Square in Accra after which he will be buried.
The former President died suddenly at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra on November 12, 2020.
He burst onto the Ghanaian political scene when he was arrested and tried for mutiny in May 1979.
At that trial, Mr Rawlings, who was a fighter pilot, defended himself by criticising the military leadership at the time for widespread corruption.
This won him many admirers and he was sprung from jail on 4 June by junior officers and other ranks to lead an uprising that they called “house cleaning exercise.”
Three former military leaders were executed during the period which is regarded as the bloodiest in Ghana’s history.
He handed over to a civilian government in September 1979 but staged another coup on 31 December 1981 and ruled as a military leader until 1993 when he was sworn in as a civilian president after winning a multi-party election on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which he formed.
He served two terms as the democratically elected President of Ghana from January 7, 1993 to January 7, 2001, before handing over to John Agyekum Kufuor, whose New Patriotic Party (NPP) won the presidential election in December 2000.
He was an active politician and a fierce anti-graft leader. He spoke his mind freely.
Mr Rawlings was someone who one had to like or hate depending on where one stood.
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