Today marks 44 years since Ghana experienced a historic political turning point on June 4, 1979. And as has always been the case, the nation marked the occasion with fond memories of Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings.
It is significant, even symbolic, to see Rawlings’ daughter, Hon. Dr. Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, leading the celebration, flanked by former President John Dramani Mahama, flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress, the political party Rawlings founded, and its Chairman, General Asiedu Nketia. Members of the NDC were joined by the mass of Ghanaian people to commemorate the occasion with a national touch, as it has always been.
June 4 has always been a solemn and, of course, sacred day to Ghana and Africa because, on that fateful day, Ghana and Africa witnessed what would become a military putsch led by Jerry John Rawlings and Major Boakye Djan that overthrew a corrupt and oppressive military administration headed by generals, which had become a trend that had seen military generals of a corrupt pedigree and reactionary civilians in power throughout the continent.
On June 4, 1979, in Ghana, the military uprising turned bloody following the general’s command to resist being hounded from power.
The action was by a handful of junior ranks and officers, who galvanised the rank and file of the Ghana Armed Forces, led by Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings of the Air Force. It was undoubtedly a popular uprising that had the support of the masses, beginning in Accra and quickly spreading across the whole nation.
Though the spontaneity of support for the violent action was phenomenal, it exerted enough energy to gather the whole nation, from the grassroots through the working class and even the middle class, and shake the foundation of the status quo.
Ghanaians fearlessly shattered the shackles that kept them in political bondage. This gave Ghanaians their second freedom, this time from internal oppressors, after that of her independence in 1957, from the external oppressors of the British colonialists.
JJ Rawlings, by leading the June 4th action, had within the twinkle of an eye become the symbol of freedom, a saviour of the nation from the claws of insatiable greed and corrupt leadership, which earned him the accolade Junior Jesus from his initials of the double J.
J. J., as Rawlings was affectionately called, exuded a rare form of charisma from his May 15 1979 attempt that failed. However, the June 4 action succeeded, and many wondered if his daughter, Hon. Dr. Zanetor, could be an ideal successor to her father to keep the Rawlings factor and political flame glowing and keep what he stood for in the minds of the masses.
If one were to find out why the event is still popular after 44 years and would continue to be the same for generations to come, it is because the action was what gave impetus to the establishment of a solid democratic dispensation, which is currently being enjoyed by the nation.
It also became a great example in Africa of an action that showed the way to unleash a revolutionary change to surmount corrupt, inept, and oppressive regimes on the continent, as others took a cue to turn the tables in Burkina Faso, which birthed Thomas Sankara, and years later in other states in Africa.
It would be remembered how the military has sparked overthrows of corrupt governance in Africa and been hailed by its people in recent times; they all depict signs of the people’s support for courageous acts that removed criminal governance and purified the nation. It is a necessary evil.
As mostly held by historians and political analysts, the event of the June 4th revolution remains intertwined with March 6th independence day, when Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah struggled to get Gold Coast from the clutches of destructive and wickedness of the British colonisers, as Rawlings, by his June 4 revolution, extricated Ghanaians from the murderous administration and corruption presided over by inept and wicked leadership in the country.
Both Ghana’s independence day and June 4 did away with oppressive governance and significantly gave hope to the citizenry. That feeling runs deep among Ghanaians to this day.
Let us as a people strive for a better future for this nation to make both our independence day and the June 4 revolution of generational benefit for all by looking beyond just celebrating and living the ideals of the events.
The hope March 6, 1957, and June 4, 1979 have given the nation are testimonies of our unity and strength to take control of our own destinies.
The historic events of our courage in resisting oppressors’ rule must continue to be symbols of dedication to our struggle for the true emancipation of our people and country.