2007 Tutu Fellow Brilliant Mhlanga has written an intimate and moving tribute for the late former Ghanaian President and military officer, Jerry John Rawlings. JJ Rawlings - as he was commonly known - led the country from 1981 to 2001, a period that included a military junta until 1992. He went on to serve two terms as the democratically-elected president of Ghana, stepping down at the end of the constitutionally-limited time frame.
Brilliant describes Jerry Rawlings as a “true Pan African” and a “Giant of Africa”, giving us an intimate look into this man's personality, political views, and dreams for the African continent.
In his touching tribute, Brilliant describes the first time he met the late president, describing him as a “philosopher, orator and a great storyteller”. He describes the statesman as a “great man with such an aura and presence". He said that JJ Rawlings had piercingly scrutinising eyes that could be scaring and serious, but switch quickly to laughter.
Brilliant commended the legacy of political stability that JJ Rawlings bestowed on Ghana and noted that the political leader will remain a celebrated African figure. Jerry Rawlings is credited for ushering in a long period of political stability that continues in Ghana to this day, following a long tumultuous series of coups from the 1960s to the late 1970s. JJ Rawlings is also credited for championing the cause of a Debt-Free Africa. He spent much of his time campaigning for African countries to have their international debts with the IMF and World Bank written off, and was later appointed by the African Union as their envoy to Somalia in 2010.
Brilliant is an academic and a human rights activist from Zimbabwe. He has worked and held various positions with organisations in the Zimbabwean civil society in the past six years, including Secretary of the Board for the Bulawayo Agenda, and the Human Rights Chair of the National Constitutional Assembly task force. He also writes with the independent media in and outside Zimbabwe.
Read the full piece at New Zimbabwe. The cover picture of this post is also from that article.