Former President Jerry John Rawlings’ supposed tribe has become a matter of great contention since he died – quite shockingly.
After the legendary life he lived, filled with both great deeds and dastardly acts, the great debate after his passing is about whether he’s an Ewe or not and whether there HAD to be some Ewe rites performed during his just ended four day long national funeral.
The debate has been raging hot on social media platforms, with Ghanaians from all tribes weighing in. Ewes are generally crying that Rawlings is an Ewe via his mother side and thus his cultural heritage should have been highlighted.
Some Ewes, and many other Ghanaians contend that Rawlings was honoured and it doesn’t matter what kind of honour he was accorded since it’s a state funeral.
One of the biggest voices in the discussion has been Noel Nutsugah, a lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism and a former school colleague of mine.
Noel takes everything from an interesting angle, blaming Ghanaians in general for selling out on our culture to the West but then crying for ‘culture’ to be displayed in some super specific instances.
He blames the lack of Ewe culture being displayed at Rawlings’ funeral on all of us for selling our culture to the West.
Noel makes succinct points and whilst I completely agree with him, I’m going much simpler in my rebuttal – Jerry Rawlings John is not an Ewe name.
If the bone of contention over Rawlings not receiving an Ewe cultural send-off at the funeral is because he was an Ewe then that is erroneous because as his skin colour clearly showed, Rawlings was of Scottish descent.
His mother was Ewe, but both the Ewes and Scots, as far as I know, carry out inheritance in a patrilineal manner.
Jerry Rawlings John, which was Papa J’s birth name, is not an Ewe name. His father did abandon him and his mother raised him as one, but if the argument is carried to the bitter end, crying over a lack of Ewe culture at the event can be beaten on a technicality.
The important thing is that Rawlings was honoured as Ghana’s longest serving head of state, the man who spearheaded our metamorphosis into the smooth multiparty democratic state we currently sit in and freely spew all our nonsensical opinions with no restrictions.
We all owe that to Papa J and that’s what discussions over his passing should be centred on, not silly questions about what tribe he emanated from.
If anyone approaches me with that debate, I’ll just be telling them that Jerry Rawlings John is not an Ewe name.