The news of the death of the former President of the Republic of Ghana, HE Mr. Jerry John Rawlings on Thursday, November 12, 2020, has plunged the country, as well as the entire African continent in deep sorrow. Messages of condolence, pouring in from all sides, reflects the loss that Africa is suffering. Jerry John (JJ) Rawlings was considered a remarkable political leader who stood out and marked his generation. “Africa has lost a stalwart of Pan-Africanism and a charismatic, continental statesman,” wrote the chairman of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat on Twitter.
A 7-day national mourning period has been decreed to pay homage to the one who ruled Ghana from 1981 to 2000. “A great tree has fallen and Ghana is poorer for this loss,” said the current president of the Republic of Ghana, HE Mr. Nana Akufo-Addo.
Jerry John Rawlings was a great advocate of the municipal movement in Africa and had always supported UCLG Africa in its main mission of promoting decentralization on the continent. In 2009, Rawlings gave the opening speech at the Africities 5 summit in Marrakech. He invited Africans to take care of their economic destiny by relying on local governments. “Decentralization is a system of power devolution that garners respect and confidence from the people who choose us as leaders. Decentralization allows for governments to share their burden with the ordinary people. This is what has been structured and elevated into what we call local government. Everything possible should be done to encourage local government. It shares the central government’s burden with the people, demystifies what governance is about and brings people in touch with the problems that central government faces.” (Read the full speech here).
JJ Rawlings received in 2013 a distinction from the Executive Committee political leadership of UCLG Africa for exceptional services rendered to the cause of decentralization and the unity of the municipal movement in Africa. He was one of the major players in the reconciliation of UCLG Africa in 2010 during its meeting in Abuja (Nigeria). He was made an honorary member of UCLG Africa along with His Excellency Mr. Nicephore Soglo, former President of the Republic of Benin, His Excellency Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, His Excellency Mr. Pedro Pires, former President of Cape Verde, His Excellency Mr. Thabo Mbeki, former President of the Republic of South Africa.
JJ Rawlings provided invaluable advice to UCLG Africa and to the Secretary General Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, including that in May 2018, as a prelude to the Africities 8 Summit.
The executive committee of UCLG Africa with JJ Rawlings in 2013 in Brazzaville during the award of the honorary degree (Congo)
JJ Rawling in 2016 in Accra, in audience with Mr. Khalifa Sall, President of UCLG Africa and Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, SG of UCLG Africa.
The municipality of Accra paid special tribute to Rawlings in its message posted on Facebook and acknowledged the extent to which Rawlings was a pioneer of decentralization in Ghana. “President Rawlings was the first President of the Fourth Republic. The history of contemporary decentralization can be credited to the former President Jerry John Rawlings’ administration.”
Jerry John Rawlings’ life counted and his ideas will continue to live on for future generations.