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Late Ghana’s Former President Inspired “probity, accountability, transparency”: Archbishop

Late former President of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings who died 12 November 2020. He is to be laid to rest 27 January 2021.

The late former President of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings, inspired multiple virtues that can be emulated, a Ghanaian Archbishop underscored at Rawlings’ Requiem Mass, highlighting the virtues of “probity, accountability and transparency.”  

In his homily during the Eucharistic celebration Sunday, January 24 ahead of Rawlings’ burial, Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle called on Ghanaians to foster the virtues that defined the former President in his efforts “to sanitize our country and society.”

“Let us take oath today in the presence of God to work conscientiously to establish these virtues of probity, accountability and transparency in our own individual lives, and in the social and political life and in service to our country Ghana,” Archbishop Palmer-Buckle said.

The Archbishop added, “This will be the most worthy legacy and monument we can build to his name and for posterity not to forget that once there lived in Ghana, a man, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, who so abhorred unrighteousness and tried to sanitize our country and society, albeit, in his own way.”

The former President “was always hungry and thirsting for righteousness,” the Local Ordinary of Ghana’s Cape Coast Archdiocese recalled and explained, “He fought for the poor; he longed for the kingdom of heaven, for justice to be established for the underprivileged, and could not tolerate the slow pace at which this was coming to birth, nor suffer those who seemingly deliberately were thwarting its manifestation.”

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“His mantra, probity, accountability and transparency, was what he tried to see instituted in the Ghanaian body politic, and I testify to the fact that he lived and died for this,” Archbishop Palmer-Buckle recalled the late former President who passed on 12 November 2020.

The late former President was at the helm of the West African nation from 1981 to 2001, making him the country’s longest-serving Head of State.

A son of a Ghanaian mother and a Scottish father, the late Rawlings who was an air force flight lieutenant spearheaded the overthrowing of the government of General Frederick Akuffo in 1979.

He handed over power to civilian rule soon after but then led another coup two years later, decrying the government’s corruption and weak leadership.

From 1981 to 1993, he ruled as chairman of what was a joint military-civilian government. He was elected President under a new constitution in 1992 and served until 2001.

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In his homily at Holy Spirit Cathedral of Ghana’s Accra Archdiocese, Archbishop Palmer-Buckle appealed for forgiveness for Rawlings’ seeming “excesses” during his tenure as President.

“If there is any legacy that we can uphold of Jerry John Rawlings, let us ... forgive him for what in our eyes and estimations seemingly seemed excesses in his utterances and doings,” said Archbishop Palmer-Buckle who doubles as the Vice President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC). 

He added, “My deepest conviction is that only God will be the best judge of Jerry on the depth and genuineness of his conviction and faith in God, a truth that only God knows best and can fathom about his son Jerry John Rawlings.”

The body of the late former president has been lying in state at the Accra International Conference Center (AICC) since Monday, January 25 for public viewing. He is expected to be laid to rest at the Burma Camp Military Cemetery in Ghana’s capital, Accra, on Wednesday, January 27.