John Dramani Mahama, the fourth President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana cuts a figure as an affable, refined and peace-loving man. His genteel disposition shields the stubborn determination that drives his life.
Born on the 29th of November 1958 in Damongo to Emmanuel Adama Mahama and his wife Abiba Nnaba, former President Mahama spent the formative years of his life in the Northern region of Ghana before relocating to Accra. The senior Mahama, one-time Member of Parliament for West Gonja and the first Northern Regional Commissioner in Ghana’s First Republic was determined that his son would have the best possible education and sent him to Achimota School, one of the elite schools in the country.
President Mahama was later to move up North again for his secondary education at the Ghana Secondary School in Tamale. In 1981, he enrolled to pursue further studies at the University of Ghana, where he received his first degree in History. He would later enroll at the same institution for Post- Graduate Studies in Communication completing in 1986. Still thirsting for knowledge, he travelled to Russia where he studied Social Psychology, obtaining a diploma from the Institute of Social Sciences in Moscow, the Russian capital. Before his entry into mainstream politics, Mr. Mahama taught at Ghana Secondary School, his alma mater; then worked as the Information, Culture and Research Officer at the Embassy of Japan in Accra. He also had a stint as Sponsorship Communications and Grants Manager for Plan International Ghana’s Country Office.
Then in 1996, his entry into politics was announced with his election into Parliament as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Bole-Bamboi constituency in the Northern region. His affability and desire to always build bridges earned him friends from both sides of the political aisle.
After serving in Parliament for three consecutive terms and having been appointed to various ministerial roles under President Rawlings, fate came calling when the late Professor Mills called upon him to become his running mate in the 2008 general elections, a request he gracefully accepted. And when President Mills died in the lead up to the 2012 elections, the mantle fell upon Mahama to lead his party and the country into the next phase of its existence. With his win at the polls, John Mahama became Ghana’s first leader to be born after independence.
Whilst some political watchers in Ghana have tagged Mr. Mahama as a lucky person, it seems his meteoric rise to the top was designed and carefully engineered. He had worked and warmed his way into the hearts of many Ghanaians throughout his time as MP and Minister during the Rawlings administration. Such personalities become natural favourites in any political contest. Former President Mahama’s commitment to transforming Ghana during his time through robust infrastructural development and investments in health and education endeared him to a huge section of the Ghanaian populace and even across the West African sub-region. Such popularity even reflected and still reflects in the social media space where he is the most followed African leader.
Not all people get to become presidents of their nations, but for the few lucky ones who get the opportunity, the mark they leave determines whether they are counted among the greats or failures. John Mahama has left a mark on the political and developmental landscape of Ghana and his name will certainly be counted among the greats whenever, wherever Ghana’s history is being written.