The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia Scotland, has described the late former President Jerry John Rawlings as “an emblem of freedom, hope and inspiration who represented the best of Africa”.
She said the former President was not just loved by the people of Ghana but he was also an icon of Africa who represented freedom, liberty, good governance and the best of man.
In a touching tribute during a courtesy call on Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings and the family last Monday, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said she had come to pay homage to what President Rawlings strove to achieve during his lifetime.
“The Commonwealth as you know is made up of 54 countries, 2.5 billion people, 60 per cent of whom are under the age of 30, and throughout the late President’s tenure and throughout his whole career, he cared greatly for young people — their future, their hopes, their aspirations — and his humility and kindness are virtues that marked him apart from many of those from his era,” Baroness Scotland said.
Baroness Scotland, who was in Ghana with a team to monitor Ghana’s elections, said she was in Ghana at a time when the former President’s memory was needed more than any other time.
“The tensions are here between both parties that have competed in this election, but I hope that all will be uplifted by his (President Rawlings’s) memory and that all Ghanaians will stay true to the torch that he has given us,” she stated.
A Senior Director of the Governance and Peace Directorate of the Commonwealth Secretariat and leader of the Observer Mission to Ghana, Professor Luis Franceschi, described President Rawlings’s life as one of the best chapters of the democratic history of Ghana.
“We came here to observe the elections; there are many things that can be improved, that will be improved but certainly the legacy of that peaceful voting day is the legacy of a man who had the courage to guide the country to this democratic path which shines not only in Africa but across the Commonwealth.
“And coming from Kenya, I know when we were creating our Constitution, we very carefully looked at Ghana and the experience of Ghana. It taught us many things. We thank Ghana for giving that great statesman to Africa and the Commonwealth,” he stated.
The Head of the funeral planning committee, Ambassador James Victor Gbeho, thanked Baroness Scotland for finding time off her busy schedule to mourn with the family.
He described former President Rawlings as a unique personality who revolutionised leadership and governance in Ghana.
He said the kind of democracy in Ghana, even though somewhat shaky sometimes, was a contribution from “this great man”.