Rawlings’s funeral postponed till January 2021

Jerry Rawlings’s aide, Kobina Andoh, says a new date will be communicated soon but did not give reasons for the postponement

The former president Jerry John Rawlings will no longer be buried on 23 December, his aide Kobina Andoh confirmed on Thursday to

“It’s been postponed to January,” Andoh said, adding: “A new date will be announced soon.”

“The inconvenience to all who had made prior arrangements for the funeral ceremonies is deeply regretted,” a later statement the Office of Flight Lieutenant Rawlings said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also communicated the change in date to the international community.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, the funeral will not be held from 20th December 2020 as planned,” a statement from the ministry said. “The new date for the funeral will be communicated in due course.”

Rift over date

Family members have been in disagreement over the 23 December funeral date since it was announced.

It will be recalled that the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, in a letter to the Awadada and Agbotui families of the late president, urged a resolution of an agreed date to inform the government’s planning for the event.

“The President would be grateful if the families of the late President could resolve all outstanding matters and convey to the Office of the President an agreed date for his funeral, for the necessary action to be taken as soon as possible,” said the letter, dated 10 December 2020.

Jerry Rawlings died at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital on 12 November after a short illness. He was 73. His last public appearance was on 24 October during the burial of his late mother, Victoria Agbotui.


Born on 22 June 1947, Rawlings attended Achimota Secondary School, where he acquired an O’ level certificate in education in 1966. In August 1967 he enlisted as a flight cadet in the Ghana Air Force, earning selection for training at the Ghana Military Academy in Teshie, Accra.

He moved in March 1968 to Takoradi in the Western Region, where he continued pursuing his course. In January 1969 he passed out as a commissioned pilot.

His dedication and hard work earned him the rank of flight lieutenant in 1978. He had a good rapport with his colleagues and showed the highest efficiency in his line of work.

In the air force

During his time in the Ghana Air Force, he became increasingly angered by what he saw as the general moral decay and decline of discipline in Ghana.

Like many junior officers in the armed forces, he blamed the national decline on the corruption in the ruling Supreme Military Council (SMC). The SMC, they reasoned, was the body in charge of ensuring that Ghana succeeded in its efforts to promote development.

His diligence as a junior officer earned him promotion, giving him the opportunity to associate with the more privileged echelons of society.

He became ever more indignant about the social injustices that were the commonly accepted way of life in Ghana and began to mobilise among his fellow officers. He was regarded with great unease by the SMC, which began to hound him.

First and second comings

Rawlings began to hatch a political and social scheme with a growing circle of colleagues and friends who were in agreement with his plans, and at the same time read widely. This awareness-raising culminated in his first coup attempt of May 1979, followed by a successful coup d’état on 4 June 1979 in which friends and supporters freed him from jail.

Among the early actions of the new Armed Forces Revolutionary Council government were the executions of eight senior military officers, including three former heads of state.

Jerry Rawlings in the revolutionary years

He stood down after democratic elections that year which were won by Hilla Limann’s People’s National Party (PNP). He staged a second coup on 31 December 1981, however, ousting Limann and launching the self-styled revolution out of which his Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) was born.

The 31 December Revolution was followed by in-camera military tribunals and a slew of extrajudicial killings, notably the murders in 1982 of three senior judges and a retired military officer.

In 1992, under some pressure from within and outside Ghana, including international financial institutions, he returned Ghana to civilian rule, introducing the Fourth Republican constitution and standing as the presidential candidate of the new party that he founded, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

He served two terms as a civilian president, handing over on 7 January 2001 to John Agyekum Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), who defeated John Evans Atta Mills, Rawlings’s chosen successor as leader of the NDC.

Rawlings continued to play the role of senior statesman and both guiding light and critic of the NDC.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, the leader of the National Democratic Party, three daughters and one son. His eldest child, Zanetor Rawlings, is the NDC MP for Klottey Korle in Accra.

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