Ghana’s former President Jerry John Rawlings is seen by many as a ‘monster’ following his involvement in the 1979 and 1981 coups.
Birthed by a Scottish father and a Ghanaian mother Rawlings twice overthrew the government. Several Ghanaians were tortured and their wealth seized – creating loads of enemies for the trained pilot.
But not to Lydia and Linda Awui who enjoined the warmth and benevolence of the man called Junior Jesus.
The Awui sisters were born conjoined and needed a procedure to be separated. Hard on cash, the Awui family was distraught and helpless until the intervention of Rawlings.
Rawlings provided the necessary funding for the procedure and the Awui sisters were separated at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in 1999, three months after their birth.
Fast forward – 20 years later – the Awui sisters called on former President Rawlings to thank him for his kind support in ensuring that the bill for the procedure was taken care of.
According to Daily Mail Gh, the sisters were accompanied by their parents, Eunice and Benjamin Awui, as well as one of the doctors, Dr. Appeadu-Mensah – a pediatric surgeon who undertook the landmark surgery 20 years ago.
The delegation thanked the former military leader for intervening to ensure the cost of the surgery was taken care of when he was President in 1999.
The twins and their parents presented the former President with a plaque and adorned him with beads to express their appreciation for his support, Daily Mail Gh reports.
The Awui sisters have led a generally healthy life since their separation, having recently completed their secondary education and are hopeful of studying medicine at the university.
Dr. Appeadu-Mensah explained to the former President that the two were joined in the abdomen and had a common liver. He said there were two sets of surgeons and anesthetists who participated in the six-hour procedure.
Former President Rawlings thanked the twins and their parents for the visit and congratulated the medical team who undertook the successful separation procedure for a “fantastic job”, the website reported.
“I am so glad somebody is here representing such level of skill. It’s always a pleasure and honor to meet people like you who always perform miracles. It’s a real wonder they made it, listening to the statistics,” Rawlings said.
Dr. Kwesi Senanu Djokoto, personal physician and aide to the former President said, “for us to see them 20 years on, living a very normal life is a phenomenon on its own. He praised former President Rawlings for facilitating the surgery. The surgery in 1999 was something to celebrate because the procedure spoke of the technological advancements of our medical personnel even at that time.”
Dr. Djokoto disclosed that conjoined twins are an extreme phenomenon occurring in about 1 in 189,000 births with approximately half stillborn and a third dying with 24 hours of birth.
In June 1979 Rawlings and other junior officers led a successful military coup with the purported aim of purging the military and public life of widespread corruption.
He and his Armed Forces Revolutionary Council ruled for 112 days, during which time the former heads of state, Gen. Ignatius Kutu Acheampong and Lieut. Gen. Frederick W.K. Akuffo, were tried and executed. Rawlings then yielded power to a freely elected civilian president, Hilla Limann, who promptly retired Rawlings from the air force.
On December 31, 1981, after two years of weak civilian rule during which Ghana’s economy continued to deteriorate, Rawlings overthrew Limann’s government, accusing it of leading the nation “down to total economic ruin.”
Rawlings established the Provisional National Defense Council as the new government and imprisoned Limann and some 200 other politicians.
In 1992, in the first presidential elections held in Ghana since 1979, Rawlings was chosen as president. He was re-elected in 1996 and handed over the presidency in early 2001 after a successful two-term in office.