The nuclear family of the late former president Jerry John Rawlings and other allied families have finally agreed on when to perform the final funeral rites for the late Ghanaian statesman.
Jerry Rawlings died on 12 November 2020 at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra after a short illness.
A source close to the Agbotui family told Asaase News that a series of meetings ended on Wednesday 16 December 2020 with all sides signing a document to confirm the resolution.
The document, the source disclosed, was signed by 22 key individuals, including the children of Rawlings, Colonel Joshua Agbotui, who is head of the extended family, a representative of Regent Adzika Tamakloe (who took part in the meeting by telephone), Judy Nkansah (née John), the sibling of the late president, Jim Tamakloe, Johnny Blagogee and others.
On 4 December 2020, the law firm Vordoagu, Dzeble & Co despatched a petition to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addi on behalf of “the Victoria Agbotui, Tamakloe, Agbotui and allied families”, all led by Regent Adzika Tamakloe Mafiaga of Anlo, and Michael Soussoudis, expressing their unhappiness with the funeral arrangements. This prompted President Akufo-Addo to urge the various groups to meet with the nuclear family to settle on a date and communicate the resolution to the Office of the President.
Asaase News’s information is that the settlement reached on Wednesday has since been communicated to the Chief of Staff. This paves the way for the smooth and dignified organisation of the final funeral rites of Ghana’s longest-serving head of state.
The source, who had read the signed document – “Resolution of the meeting of the Representatives of the Agbotui and Allied Families” – told Asaase News that the families agreed on a date in January. However, this is subject to the convenience of the state but the family does not object as long as the funeral takes place in January 2021.
“The family has agreed to 30 January 2021 for the burial of the late president,” the source said, adding, “but we all agreed to be flexible to an alternative convenient date in January.”
Date subject to government approval
The source said the families agreed that their proposed date of 30 January 2021 will be communicated to the Office of the President.
Quoting from the resolution, the source told Asaase News: “If the said date is not convenient for the diary of the Government, an alternative date will be agreed to in January 2021.
“The family agrees to be bound by the date communicated by the government for the burial of the late former President Jerry John Rawlings,” the resolution added.
It is anticipated that the Office of the President will propose an alternative date because the annual African Union Summit is scheduled to take place in Ethiopia from 29 January to 2 February 2021. This rules out the family’s preferred date of 30 January.
President Akufo-Addo intends to invite several of his colleague heads of state to the state funeral for Rawlings, especially other leaders from within the ECOWAS sub-region and heads of state from other AU countries.
The initial date proposed for the state burial of the first president of the Fourth Republic was 23 December 2020. However, some members of the extended family objected to this, insisting that they were not consulted and had made no input to the decision. The Anlo Traditional Council also voiced objections.
In a press release issued on 17 December 2020, the office of the late former president postponed the date of the funeral indefinitely to allow for broader consultation. Jubilee House also encouraged the various families to meet to agree on a date in order to avoid any diplomatic embarrassment.
Although Jerry Rawlings’s father was Scottish and the mother Ewe, and both sides follow patrilineal etiquette, his maternal extended family has been very assertive in making sure that its role is recognised and respected.
Present at the meeting
Twenty-two representatives from the various families attended the meeting.
Among them were: Colonel Joshua Agbotui (rtd), head of the extended family, Ambassador Victor Gbeho (chairing), Bill Ashiagbor, Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, Yaa Asantewaa Agyeman-Rawlings, Amina Agyeman-Rawlings, Kimathi Agyeman-Rawlings, Judy Nkansah, Madam Sylvia Ahoorlu, Anthony Dzegede, Madam Dodo Amegashie and Kwesi Djokoto.
Also present were Group Captain Richard Forjoe, John Kofi Agbotui, Godson Agbotui (also representing George Nkornyuie), Johnny Blagogee, Jim Tamakloe, Madam Otovi Yovo, Madam Xoese Dzokoto (née Amegashie), Gameli Agbotui, Cromwell Gokah and Madam Hanifa Yahaya.