President Akufo-Addo, other dignitaries pay respects to J.J. Rawlings

BY: Emmanuel Bonney & Prince Acquah
• President Akufo-Addo and wife Rebecca, filing past the body of the former President. Pictures: EBOW HANSON & SAMUEL TEI ADANO

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and some high-profile personalities yesterday filed past the body of former President Jerry John Rawlings as it lay in state at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC).

The President, who arrived at the venue at  8:54 a.m., in the company of the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, was the first to pay his respects.

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and his wife, Mrs Samira Bawumia, took their turn at exactly 9 a.m.

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor was the next to pay his last respects, followed by former President John Dramani Mahama and his wife, Mrs Lordina Mahama, at 9:16 a.m.

Other dignitaries

Other dignitaries who took turns to file past President Rawlings’s body were the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin; the Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah; some justices of the Superior Court; the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Mrs Akosua Frema Osei-Opare; Members of Parliament, members of the Diplomatic Corps, former Ministers of State, former members of the Council of State, a former Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, and some organised groups.

Dressed in black apparel and wearing face masks in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols at the event, President Akufo-Addo and the other sombre-looking dignitaries walked gently round the body, with some of them taking a bow in honour of the former leader of the country.

Asantehene’s delegation

The rich tradition and culture of the people of Asante took centre stage at the AICC later in the afternoon.

The Omanhene of the Kumawu Traditional Area, Barima Sarfo Tweneboa-Kodua, who represented the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, arrived at the venue in Kuntunkuni, accompanied by a retinue of chiefs and people from the traditional area.

Before the entry of the Asante delegation to the foyer of the AICC, there was the firing of muskets and blowing of the Ntahera horns, amid the beating of drums.

Barima Tweneboa-Kodua later sat in state at the foyer, where the family members of the late Rawlings were seated.

The Asante delegation presented bottles of Schnapps, whisky and  black and white Kente cloths to the bereaved family on behalf of the Asantehene. 

The Kente cloths are to be used for the royal burial of the late former President.

Barima Tweneboa-Kodua extended the condolences of the Asantehene to the bereaved family and urged them to keep calm.

The eldest daughter of the late former President, Dr Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, thanked the Asantehene’s delegation for the honour done the family.

Eulogy

Some of the dignitaries who spoke to the Daily Graphic eulogised the late former President for his statesmanship and exceptional charisma.

The Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, described the late President Rawlings as a person who walked the talk in unity and integrity.

He said his passing should awaken the people to “an unwavering commitment to the unity, peace and stability of our country and, most importantly, the preservation of our democracy”.

The Minister-designate for Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said even though he was on the opposite side of the political divide, he saw the late President as a true patriot who wanted the best for his country. 

A former Minister of Sports and former MP for Ningo Prampram, Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, also said President Rawlings was a hands-on President who was involved in every step of his administration. 

The MP for Nhyiaeso, Mr Stephen Amoah, described President Rawlings as “someone who committed himself to the cause of this country based on the principles of probity, accountability and transparency”.

For his part, the Minister-designate for Roads and Highways, Mr Kwasi Amoako-Atta, said: “We all know that he was a champion of probity, accountability and all.”

• Former President John Agyekum Kufuor paying his respects

• Mr Alban Sumana Bagbin (right), Speaker, and the leadership of Parliament commiserating with the bereaved family

• Former President John Dramani Mahama and wife, Lordina,  consoling the bereaved family 

• Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and wife Samira, consoling Dr Zanetor Agyemang Rawlings and the bereaved family

• Barima Sarfo Tweneboa Kodua, Kumawuhene, leading a delegation of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, to the Accra International Conference Centre