Madam Baroness Patricia Scotland, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, has described 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 also an “icon of Africa who represented freedom, liberty, good governance and the best of man.”
A statement issued by Mr Kobina Andoh Amoakwa, the Communications Director, Office of late former President Rawlings, copied to the Ghana News Agency, said the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth said this in a touching tribute during a courtesy call on Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings, the widow and the family on Monday.
She said she had come to pay homage to what President Rawlings endeavoured 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 is something that marked him apart from many of those from his era,” Madam Scotland said.
The Commonwealth Boss, who was in Ghana with a team to monitor the elections, said she was in the country at a time when the former President’s memory was needed more than ever before.
“So I am humbled that I am able to come on behalf of that 2.5 billion people to say that our heart is with you, our loss cannot mirror your loss; that we can partake in it because a light has gone from this world but it will never be extinguished. Because he lights our history and just as he lighted the way for our past, he will be the beacon for the future.”
Professor Luis Franceschi, Senior Director of the Governance and Peace Directorate of the Commonwealth Secretariat, said President Rawlings’ loss was a “win for heaven.”
He described the late President’s life as one of the best chapters of the democratic history of Ghana.
Professor Franceschi, also the leader of the Observer Mission to Ghana, said: “We came here to observe the elections; there are many things that could 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.”
Mr James Victor Gbeho, the Head of the funeral planning committee, commended Madam Baroness Scotland for finding time off her busy schedule to mourn with the family.
He said the family was impressed with the visit of the Commonwealth Secretary-General.
Mr Gbeho described 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 that great man.