Dr Hage G. Geingob
When Ghana is in mourning, Africa is also in mourning. On 20 November 2020, I learned with immense sadness about the passing of the courageous son of Ghana and resolute Pan-Africanist, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, the former President of the Republic of Ghana.
Ghana has a long tradition and distinction of producing leaders for the African continent, and not just outstanding patriots for Ghana. In that distinguished heritage of excellence, President Jerry Rawlings stands out among the great men and women the Republic of Ghana has given to the cause of freedom and the socio-economic emancipation of the African continent and her people.
In that vein, as Namibians, we owe President Rawlings and the people of Ghana an immense debt of gratitude for the moral and material support Ghana provided to the cause of independence and freedom from the illegal occupation of Namibia by the Apartheid Regime of South Africa. Young Namibians in exile who had found a home in universities and schools in Ghana are today contributing to the socio-economic development of an independent Namibia.
It also deserves special mention that some of the most distinguished military leaders of the Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) of the liberation movement, SWAPO, including Cde Ndimo Haamambo received military training in Ghana. During that period, understanding and appreciating fully the urgency of the task of liberating Namibia, President Rawlings informed General Dimo Haamambo that as a freedom fighter he did not need to make appointments to see him.
Indeed, death is always devastating. But it also allows us to better appreciate and to better ingrain the beautiful moments of those who have departed. I have met President Rawlings on a number of occasions, and his wit and sense of humour, as well as his audacity to surprise always stood out. Either in what he said or did. I recall anxiously how during an Official Visit to Namibia we availed the Presidential Falcon for him to visit the coastal areas of the country, only for the pilots to inform us that President Rawlings bravely took over command of the Falcon and flew it himself to the destination of Walvis Bay.
President Rawlings was not one to hesitate volunteering witty advice based on his own experiences as a leader of Ghana. He once told me mockingly and sarcastically that when he was a military leader he used to get things done faster compared to the period when he was elected democratically. His conclusion was that, “it is not my democracy.” However, having accepted the democratic path is a clear demonstration of a man of action, albeit one who valued the democratic will of the people of Ghana.
From this part of our continent, we will remember President Jerry Rawlings as a transformational leader who played a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of Ghana and the emancipation of Africans. Inasmuch as his departure from our temporary world is hard and difficult for us to accept, President Rawlings remains a consequential figure and transformational leader of our Continent who has made in addition to being a husband and father, outstanding and indelible contributions to a prosperous Ghana and the Africa We Want. Without question, the oeuvre of President Rawlings on the African canvas is shining and is complete. It is enough reason for celebration during this difficult hour grief and mourning for the people of Ghana and our beloved Continent, Africa.
On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Namibia and her people, I wish to extend my sincere condolences to my Dear Brother, President Nana-Akufo Ado, as well as the wife of President Rawlings, former First Lady Nana Konadu-Agyeman Rawlings, the children, the entire family and the fraternal people of Ghana.