Jerry John Rawlings wearing a military attire


He was the president when I was growing up. Once in a while, he and his convoy drove through the village. And we lined the streets chanting his name. Some of us kids barely had any shirt on. With sheeny little tummies bulging out like baseballs, we squealed and waved till we almost lost our voice.

Why we were so enthused about this sort of ceremony remained unanswered.

He was loved and feared in equal measure. While giving his speech, his hands gestured with passion, and his head nodded along occasionally. In those moments the country went dead silent, except for the radios and TVs that let his booming voice through.

The charisma with which he did everything, at a point, made him more revered than feared. As children, we mimicked his voice and laughed at his mispronunciation of certain Twi words. Every effort he made to speak a local language came off as hilarious.

You couldn’t ignore the man.

We drew him more often than any other figure in art class. Maybe because his photos were everywhere. It was the images of him donning Aviator sunglasses, beret and military attire that stood out most for us armature artists.

To an extent, I could draw him from memory without the aid of a reference.

He was Jerry John Rawlings.