Remembering J J Rawlings on his 74th birthday

To mark his 74th birthday, the J J Rawlings Foundation with the support of the Forestry Commission will organise a tree planting exercise at the Achimota School 

Today Tuesday 22 June 2021 marks the 74th birthday of Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, who passed away on Thursday 12 November 2020 after a short illness.

President Rawlings was a man whose leadership was characterised by selflessness, passion, patriotism and a religious commitment to the pursuit of the anti-corruption agenda.

During his tenure as head of state and president, Flt Lt Rawlings entrenched the ethos of freedom, justice, probity and accountability into the Ghanaian political climate.

He believed in leadership by example and did not hesitate to publicly show his commitment to whatever challenges the country faced.

Love for the environment

Rawlings’s love for the environment was overwhelming. He believed in a direct relationship between humanity’s self-worth, respect for self and our respect for our environment: “Nothing reflects our irresponsibility and indiscipline more than the neglect of our environment” (J J Rawlings). Throughout his tenure, he was boldly and unapologetically committed to ensuring a clean environment – he never hesitated to partake in exercises to desilt gutters, to plant trees and was very vocal in his displeasure and disappointment in the growing habit of indiscriminate felling of trees.

Rawlings was a true environmentalist. During his term in office, he ensured that policies were focused on the preservation and protection of Ghana’s environment. Even after he left office, he remained a guardian for the protection of our environment, and an advocate for sustainable solutions that allow a symbiotic relationship between nature and mankind to flourish.

In 2017, as part of activities to mark his seventieth birthday, a symposium on the national environment was held under the theme: “Protecting and Safeguarding the National Environment for Future Generations.” At this symposium, a host of experts from academia, the state and individuals all with the protection of the environment at heart, spoke extensively and passionately on climate change in Ghana; small-scale mining; sustainable use of our coastal and marine environment drawing particular attention to vulnerable communities.

In 2019 as part of activities marking the 40th anniversary of the 4 June uprising, a tree planting exercise led by the former President was organised on the Legon road in Accra.

Activities to mark his birthday

To mark his 74th birthday, the J J Rawlings Foundation, an institution established a few years ago to build on the legacy of our dearly departed former President will, in conjunction with the Achimota School and with the support of the Forestry Commission, organise a tree-planting exercise at Achimota School.

The tree-planting exercise will occur at President Rawlings’ alma mater to raise awareness of our collective responsibility in protecting and preserving our environment – ideals that were very dear to the heart of Rawlings. The choice of venue is also to highlight the need for the younger generation to understand the role as guardians of nature and aims to empower students to take ownership of the campaign to preserve and protect our environment, one tree at a time.

The J.J. Rawlings Foundation is very grateful to the Forestry Commission for its kind support of this project which is in furtherance of the Greening Ghana campaign which took off on 11 June 2021 . The JJR Foundation is also grateful to Achimota School for partnering the project and helping to immortalize the legacy of one of its illustrious sons.

As we remember this proud and charismatic son of Ghana, we conclude with this profound statement he made in 2013.

“I have always derived so much comfort and serenity from [Mother Nature]. The loyalty, trust and integrity of Mother Nature has never been in doubt….If I could live my life again and again, I would still spend it trying to protect her.”

J.J. Rawlings Foundation – 22 June 2021

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