June 4, 1979: Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings broke out of jail with help from other military officers to lead a revolution that ousted then-president, General Frederick Akuffo. Nicknamed “Junior Jesus” by the people, a young charismatic Rawlings overthrew the ruling government with an objective to “purge the military and public life of widespread corruption.” After, J.J. Rawlings and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council ruled for 112 days. Former rulers, Gen. Ignatius Kutu Acheampong and Lieut. Gen. Frederick Akuffo were tried by the military tribunal and executed. Rawlings relinquished power soon after, handing over to a civilian president, Dr. Hilla Limann.
However, two years down the lane, Jerry John Rawlings staged another coup to unseat Limann "citing corruption and weak leadership." He then ruled for 12 years as chairman of a joint military-civilian government until 1992, when Ghana held its first presidential elections since 1979. Rawlings was elected as president under a new constitution. He was reelected in 1996 and stepped down from the presidency in early 2001. Though he seized power twice through military coups, Flt. Lt. Rawlings is recognized as “the man behind one of Africa's most democratic nations” after he oversaw Ghana's transition to multi-party democracy. The late Jerry John Rawlings was born in Accra, June 1947, to a Ghanaian mother and Scottish father.