Former Ghanaian first lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, paid a surprise visit to the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library (TMPL) at Unisa on 3 February 2017.
She was accompanied by her daughter Asantewaa Rawlings, and Zanele Mbeki, the former South African first lady. Agyeman-Rawlings is the wife of Jerry John Rawlings, who led Ghana as a head of state during the 1980s.
Agyeman-Rawlings said her family has close ties with the Mbeki family, and the visit was aimed at gaining first-hand information about the library and its functionality. She praised the library, saying it was a classic institution that would allow future generations to learn about the history of the African continent and the role of former President Thabo Mbeki in the struggle against apartheid.
Agyeman-Rawlings said she admired how the library preserved the history of the former statesman, and the partnership between Unisa and the library was remarkable because it allowed the public to have a glimpse of the history of the Mbeki era.
She also added that her family intended to set up a similar presidential library in Ghana, which would preserve the legacy of her husband. She said her family was consulting with the Mbeki family about various options which had to be explored to set up a similar prestigious library.
Magdeline Mpete, a librarian at TMPL, said Unisa intends the library to be an indispensable centre of learning, research, and discourse for the attainment of the African Renaissance. She said receiving Agyeman-Rawlings marked a significant milestone. “Having the former first lady of Ghana visiting to benchmark with the concept of the library reinforces the reawakening of Africa and means more Africans are taking action to ensure that the continent’s knowledge and traditions are preserved by Africa’s own,” she said.
*By Percy Mthombeni