Education and military career
Rawlings finished his secondary education at Achimota College in 1967. He joined the Ghana Air Force shortly afterwards; on his application, the military switched his surname John and his middle name Rawlings. In March 1968, he was posted to Takoradi, in Ghana’s Western Region, to continue his studies. He graduated in January 1969, and was commissioned as a pilot officer, winning the coveted “Speed Bird Trophy” as the best cadet in flying the Su-7 ground attack supersonic jet aircraft as he was skilled in aerobatics. He earned the rank of flight lieutenant in April 1978. During his service with the Ghana Air Force, Rawlings perceived a deterioration in discipline and morale due to corruption in the Supreme Military Council (SMC). As promotion brought him into contact with the privileged classes and their social values, his view of the injustices in society hardened. He was thus regarded with some unease by the SMC. After the 1979 coup, he involved himself with the student community of the University of Ghana, where he developed a more leftist ideology through reading and discussion of social and political ideas.
Jerry John Rawlings was a Ghanaian military officer and politician who led the country from 1981 to 2001 and also for a brief period in 1979. He led a military junta until 1992, and then served two terms as the democratically elected President of Ghana.
Rawlings came to power in Ghana as a flight lieutenant of the Ghana Air Force following a coup d’état in 1979. Prior to that, he led an unsuccessful coup attempt against the ruling military government on 15th May 1979, just five weeks before scheduled democratic elections were due to take place. After handing power over to a civilian government, he took back control of the country on 31 December 1981 as the chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC). In 1992, Rawlings resigned from the military, founded the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and became the first President of the Fourth Republic. He was re-elected in 1996 for four more years. After two terms in office, the limit according to the Ghanaian Constitution, Rawlings endorsed his vice-president John Atta Mills as a presidential candidate in 2000. Rawlings served as the African Union envoy to Somalia. He died in November 2020, at age 73 and was accorded a state funeral.