The real story behind Rawlings' June 4 Revolution

The June 4 Revolution, otherwise known as June 4th Uprising was incited by the arrest and trial of Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings and other junior military officers by the leadership of the Supreme Military Council II (SMC II).

Former President Jerry John Rawlings during military rule

Jerry John Rawlings and the junior officers were arrested and charged with mutiny for a failed coup attempt on May 15, 1979.

It sparked when the then military turned the trial against the government by accusing it of massive corruption and requesting that his fellow accused be set free as he was solely responsible for the mutiny.

He was incarcerated for sentencing. His diatribe resonated with the entire nation as there was massive suffering.

On the night of June 3, 1979, junior military officers including Major Boakye Djan broke into the jail where Rawlings was being held and freed him, and ostensibly marched him to the national radio station to make an announcement.


The first time the public heard from Rawlings was a now legendary statement that he Rawlings had been released by the junior officers and that he was under their command.

He requested all soldiers to meet with them at the Nicholson Stadium in Burma Camp in Accra.

The entire nation went up in uproar. The soldiers rounded up senior military officers including three former heads of states, General F. K Akuffo, Ignatious Kutu Acheampong, and Afrifa for trial. They were subsequently executed by firing squad.

Rawlings was appointed the head of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) by the revolting Junior military officers to run the country until the ongoing election was completed.

He handed over power to Dr. Hilla Limann in September 1979. But Rawlings again overthrew Limann on 31 December 1981.


Though June 4th became a noted date in Ghana's history, it has been said to be a date that brings a lot of pain to people who either lost loved ones, lost businesses, or had to flee the country. when the then military government of the Supreme Military Council (SMC II) of General F K. Akuffo put then flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings on public trial for attempting to overthrow the government.

It arose out of a combination of corruption, bad governance, frustration among the general public, and lack of discipline and frustrations within the Ghanaian army.

Asiedu Nketia, the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) believes that Ghana is experiencing a crisis of corruption, nepotism, and abuse of power under the NPP-led government.

According to him, Ghanaians who are conscious of their allegiance to the country and not a government or political figure, will not yield to the will of leaders who seek to use their position for selfish gains.


He said the late former President John Rawlings embodied the concept of positive defiance and acted against corruption.

"What is missing in our democracy which is creating problems of corruption, nepotism, and lack of transparency is the lack of the spirit of positive defiance. We have all the institutions which are designed to check the abuse of power, [but] our problem is the attitude of the people who complain to the institutions," he said.

"If politicians order security men to turn the guns they have been armed with to protect citizens into suppressing citizens they are to protect, we expect that professional security men and women will say ‘No sir. We have sworn to defend the citizens, so we are on the side of citizens against the reins of power’. How many of our security men can do that?" he asked.

"If public servants are impressed upon by politicians to create opportunities for the politicians to loot state resources, with the spirit of positive defiance we expect the chief directors, directors, and other public servants to say ‘No sir," he said at a vigil at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra to honour the memory of the late Rawlings.


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