He burst onto the scene between May and June 1979, left in September 1979, returned on the 31st of December, 1981, and remained till 2001.
It was in the heady days of his second appearance on the national stage, as the Leader of the, Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), that brought in its wake, unprecedented drought and hunger.
His name was Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, and he led the nation for 19 long years.
How can I forget the epithet “Rawlings Chain”, which referred to the deep starvation-induced trenches around our necks? “Rawlings Salad”, referred to some green leaf which was the most readily available to fee d scores of families. Those were really excruciating times in Ghana!
The revolutionary spirit ignited the flame of Farmers Day, and that flame remains burning in the soul of the nation as a day set aside to pay deserving respect to the gross importance of the farming and fishing industry to the socio-economic growth of the Republic of Ghana.
Instituted in 1985, in the aftermath of the food crisis of the preceding 2-3 years, Farmers Day has survived from the PNDC days into its 36th year of existence, and has spanned the Leadership of, President Rawlings, President Kufuor, President John Evans Atta-Mills, President Mahama, and now, President Akufo-Addo.
In spite of the fact that our fourth republican democratic dispensation continuous to wear very rancorous partisan garbs, successive governments have NOT had the effrontery to scrap the Farmers Day celebration/national holiday – ample testimony that the Day has come to stay till eternity.
Records have it that, the first ever Farmers Day, was celebrated in Osino, Eastern Region, where the drought of 82/83 was most severe, and the very first recipient of the Best Farmer award, received, two machetes, a pair of wellington boots, and a preset radio. Phew!!! Of course, in 1985, such a price package most certainly meant a lot to the recipient.
As night follows day, and as day follows night; deeply embedded in the cycle of life, is the unavoidable existence of, death because, this world is not our home – we are just passing through.
I recall, in my sobbing moments of deep grief when I lost my dear mother over 28 years ago, how a consoling voice told me; “when we were coming into this world, God asked all of us a final question whether we would agree to die and return to give account of our stewardship on earth. Those of us who agreed to return to give account of our stewardship, are the ones God allowed to come into earthly existence. The only thing God did not tell us, is the exact time He would ask us to return to him. Those who said they would not return to give account of their stewardship, were not allowed by God to come into earthly existence. Koku, your mother agreed to return to where she came from, and her time us up so she is gone.”
So, Jerry John Rawlings agreed that he would return to give account of his stewardship – his departure day arrived, on, November 12, 2020, and he left us!
As we celebrate another Farmers Day, Jerry John Rawlings would be able to boldly give account of his stewardship as President of the Republic of Ghana, and point to, Farmers Day, as one of his lasting legacies.
As we celebrate our farmers and fishermen in this era of fighting to save our climate, it is my fervent prayer that we shall all be awake to our individual and collective responsibilities as far as saving the environment is concerned.
Illustrious sons and daughters of our soil and waters, we say a BIG AYEKOO to you all for your hard work and dedication to feeding us and helping build the nation.
President Jerry John Rawlings; farmers and fishermen of Ghana shall forever be grateful to you for giving them a Special Day to be honoured and celebrated for their toil and sweat, in their desirous nationalistic quest to continue to contribute to the socio-economic growth of the nation.
Brothers and Sisters, that Day of giving account of our stewardship on the earth realm shall surely come: what would our story be, when the Day comes?
JJ has done his; let us do ours!
May the soul of Jerry John Rawlings continue to rest in perfect peace.
Samuel Koku Anyidoho
Founder & President, Atta-Mills Institute