Former President Rawlings and his late Victoria Agbotui

Former President Jerry John Rawlings has recounted how strict and an uncompromising disciplinarian his late mother Victoria Agbotui was during her 101 years on earth.

In a glowing tribute read by his daughter Dr. Zanetor Rawlings, the former President said, “My mother was tough and determined and never stopped threatening the use of the rod. She was fearless and had the most amazing work ethic.

“She believed that the devil found use of the idle hand, so kept herself and those around her busy at all times.”

Mr Rawlings said his “very enterprising” mother with “exacting standards” laid the foundation for him to give off his best when he became a pilot in the No. 4 Squadron of the Ghana Air Force.

The late Victoria Agbotui, whose funeral was held at the forecourt of the State House on Saturday, had President Nana Akufo-Addo, Vice President Bawumia, political party leaders, the clergy, traditional authorities and members of the diplomatic corps in attendance. 

Former President Rawlings recounted how in his school days at Achimota School, the mother came to visit him on many occasions but met his absence because he had gone to the Achimota Forest to enjoy the tranquillity of nature.

“As I headed back through the arboretum, I could see her standing in front of Guggisberg House wagging her finger at some poor student who was unfamiliar with her temperament. Invariably she was leaving a warning of some sort behind for me.”

Madam Victoria Agbotui never wanted Mr Rawlings to join the military and felt pained and vindicated about his initial reservations regarding his career choice during his trial after May 15, 1979.

Auntie Vic versus Otumfuo

The former President reminisced his mother’s encounter with the late Otumfuo Osei Tutu Agyeman-Prempeh at the State House where she used to work as a baker.

He said on one occasion, “when I went to visit her at the State House, I heard her yelling at someone. I followed her voice round the building till I arrived on the scene to witness my mother standing in the garden, rebuking someone on the balcony at the top of her voice.

“I looked up, and it was none other than Otumfuo Osei Tutu Agyeman-Prempeh II, the then Asantehene (of blessed memory) who had asked for salt from a junior staff member contrary to his strict dietary requirements. Naturally, he turned away and went into his room when he saw the shocked expression on my face.

“Auntie Vic was talking to this great King as if he was her son! She was fearless with little regard for political correctness.”

Feisty old Auntie Vic never lost her fire!

“My mother never spoke; she only shouted. I can still hear her voice as I reminisce. That’s probably why I can’t seem to speak in a quiet voice, either. Of all the things to inherit!

“Even on her 100th birthday, she was still giving orders about who was to stand where and what she wanted to eat and drink. She never lost her fire!,” Mr Rawlings said.

The former President said there were times he was afraid Auntie Vic would outlive some of her children and her peers.

“She was as tough as nails, but the good Lord giveth and taketh and I know she is already in Heaven busily shouting out instructions. I have no doubt God will make her police chief in Heaven to dish out her brand of discipline and trust her top perform the role with distinction,” he said in jest.