The name Rawlings is a household name to every Ghanaian. However, as to what the name actually implies is a different story all together. Not every Ghanaian liked JJ Rawlings for his stern leadership style especially his infamous killings and incarcerations of many Ghanaians.
But coming to think about it, I have realized despite all the negative sentiments about his personality Rawlings was no such bad leader as a former military head of state. Comparing his rule to the so called democracy we claim to have today, I see a wide margin especially with regards to the attitude of Ghanaians today.
I sometimes strongly reckon that looking at the current state of affairs; we still need a leader with the personality as that of JJ Rawlings. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not doing politic. My interest is in the charismatic leadership traits of this man and how we can transform our failing economy today with such a leader.
As a young man growing up in Ghana today, there are many unfolding political and social events in the country that has brought varying implications on my life so far. This is due to the kind of leadership, policy implementation tactics among others. Our leaders of today, as learned as they are exhibiting some unprofessional and unethical leadership traits that is driving this country into economic turmoil. These have resulted in corruption, apathy and the disregard for the law.
The sad aspect is that a typical attitude of us Ghanaians is our inability to speak against wrong doers. People are hesitant to point fingers at others who they clearly know are engaged in serious acts of corruption and mismanagement of the country’s resources.
We must understand that at this critical point in the county’s unpredictable economic situation a leader with a commanding personality to put people to order is all we need. This I believe strongly that the best person who fits the frame is a leader with the traits of former head of state and President JJ Rawlings. Four of his remarkable traits as a leader that I admire so much as a young man are what am about to share with you!
So what kind of person is he?
Born to a Ghanaian mother and Scottish father, Rawlings grew up in the colonial country called Gold Coast (presently Ghana). His formal educational background was not a strong one. However, his strong personality and hardwork ended him in the military in his early years, enrolling into the Ghana Air force Training School in the Western Region.
He rose through the ranks to become one of the most decorated and best jet fighter pilots the country the country has ever seen. One of his famous achievements was being able to fly a jet fighter under a bridge which has been an unbreakable record in the air force.
His ideologies and ambitious traits won him a lot of admiration and this was influential in the mobilization of comrades in the army who aided him in the organization of a coupe to overthrow the Akuffo General in 1979. It was a difficult feat to achieve especially because at that moment he was facing a death sentence in jail and it was these comrades who broke him out and to carry out the successful coupe in 1979.
He eventually become Ghana’s democratically elected president from 1992 to 2000 when he handed over power to the opposition party that won the election. All through his career he was revered and admired for his firm personality. These and other four special attributes of his personality are what I admire soo much as a young man. And this I gladly, will like to share with you.
Rawlings has always been a leader from his hay days in the military. Overthrowing a military government was not an easy feat to achieve at that time especially in his situation, being incarcerated and facing a death sentence. It took his leadership qualities to mobilize men to do such a suicidal job. Most of the top military officers in power took their inspiration from Rawlings who trained most of them. As a leader he also involved himself and always led by example with such unprecedented humility. A head of state who gladly cleaned choked gutters with men on the street.
People hardly talk about his achievements and passion to serve his country. Rawlings was a selfless leader who to me is only second to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. He always put his interest second to that of the country. Rawlings never believed in using national resources to accumulate personal wealth. Such people he dealt with severely in his government. For instance, he overthrew Hilla Limann’s democratically elected government upon realizing it was not working in the interest of Ghanaians as planned.
Rawlings thought he could depend on these so called elite politicians to change the fortunes of country. They all failed and he had to take the necessary actions by eliminating them. This was very necessary at such defining moments in the history of Ghana’s political and economic growth.
This is Rawlings’s most impressive trait that interests me. JJ is a brand on his own. He has always been who he is no matter what the opposition is. At a point in his government, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tried all possible means to influence him but to no avail. This won him the recognition of other African leaders like the former Libyan head of state Muammar Gaddafi. Rawlings never compromised with his principles and ideologies as a leader.
Even till today Rawlings defends his reasons for June 4th though many have criticized his killings. That is how a firm leader is, one who stands for his believes, standards and principles. During Rawlings’s time, there was some level of sanity, law and order in the country mainly because of the influence and power he exerted on the people of Ghana.
No matter what he does, there are some people who will never like him. However, I believe in other to develop as a nation it’s time we drop our prejudiced sentiments about past leaders which is politically motivated. It is time we start learning from the positive side of these honorable men and women. That way we can develop ourselves and hence develop as a nation.