Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, the first daughter of the late former President Jerry John Rawlings says, “My dad had quite a wicked sense of humour. He just loved to pull pranks on people.”
In a video she recorded on Father’s Day, the Klottey Korle MP explained that growing up, they only saw their father mostly on weekends or sometime within the week because they did not stay in the Osu Castle with him.
She said one of the early memories she had of her late father is that he taught her how to fly the aircraft.
She disclosed that one day her father decided it was time for her to fly alone.
Earlier, her dad who was in the cockpit with her acted like he had passed out and told her to land the plane pretending he was not there.
“I was very offended at the time because I thought it was bad luck to say things like that. But he ignored me until I landed the plane, and as soon as we landed, he asked me to stop while we were still on the runway,” Zanetor recalled.
“He got out of the plane and told me to go. I hesitated [but] he said ‘You’re ready so go’. So, I took off whilst praying, just as I had taken off my mother arrived and asked ‘Where is Zane?’ and my dad pointed up to the sky without saying a word…thank God I landed safely,” Zanetor further recalled.
She added that her father also taught her how to ride a horse and a bicycle.
Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings recalled how her late dad was able to let his cats, dogs, birds and peacocks among other pets live in harmony in his village.
“This is the most phenomenal thing…The animals just get along really well,” she said.
She added that anytime they were returning to Accra from a long journey and they find elderly women standing by the roadside, JJ Rawlings will stop and give them a ride in his vehicle or that of the escort vehicle.
“It was an important thing to see because he was never too big to help anybody and he never looked at anybody as being below him or too small to be given his attention or to help,” Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings said.
Jerry John Rawlings died on Thursday, November 12 at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital after a short illness. He was 73 years old.
Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings who issued a statement on Thursday announcing her father’s death wrote: “The family requests privacy at this difficult moment. Details of funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.”
Jerry John Rawlings was born on 22 June 1947. As a military and later a civilian leader, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings (Rtd.) ruled the country from 31 December 1981 to 7 January 2001; he was a leader of the ruling Armed Forces Revolutionary Council for a few months in 1979.
Rawlings led the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) junta from 1981 until 1993, when he handed over power to himself after democratic elections, won through a progressive alliance with Nkrumahist parties led by Kow Nkensen Arkaah who became his Vice President.
He then served a second civilian term from 7 January 1997 until 7 January 2001.
After the two-term constitutional limit, Rawlings endorsed for the 2000 presidential election, then Vice-President Professor John Atta Mills as his preferred presidential candidate for the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
But Atta-Mills lost to J.A. Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Rawlings will be remembered across Africa as the African Union envoy to Somalia during heavy fighting in the horn of Africa.
The former president also sent Ghanaian peacekeeping soldiers to Liberia during the civil war of the 1990s and settled Liberia refugees in Ghana. In the 1980s, he sent a ship to bring home Ghanaians who were being sacked from Nigeria.
J.J. Rawlings left behind his wife Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings; three daughters, Zanetor, Yaa Asantewaa and Amina; and a son Kimathi.