Profile: John Dramani Mahama

He is a Ghanaian politician who served as President of Ghana from 24th July 2012 to 7th January 2017.

He was born on November 29, 1958.

He previously served as Vice President of Ghana from January 2009 to July 2012, and took office as President on 24 July 2012 following the death of his predecessor, John Atta Mills.

Mahama is a communication expert, historian, and writer. He was a Member of Parliament for Bole Bamboi from 1997 to 2009 and Minister of Communications from 1998 to 2001. He is a member of the NDC (National Democratic Congress).

Mahama is the first vice president to take over the presidency from the death of his predecessor, Prof. John Atta Mills, and is the first head of state of Ghana to have been born after Ghana’s independence. He was elected after December 2012 election to serve as full-time President. He contested re-election for a second term in the 2016 election, but lost to the New Patriotic Party candidate Nana Akufo-Addo, whom he defeated in 2012. This made him the first President in the history of Ghana to not have won a second term.

In February 2019, Mahama was confirmed as the candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress to contest in the 2020 elections, the incumbent president Nana Akufo-Addo who unseated Mahama in a 2016 election, capitalizing on an economy that was slowing due to falling prices for gold, oil and cocoa exports.

A member of the Gonja ethnic group, Mahama hails from Bole in the Northern Region. Mahama was born in Damongo in the Damango-Daboya constituency of Northern region into a political tradition dating back to the country’s First Republic. His father, Emmanuel Adama Mahama, a wealthy rice farmer and teacher, was the first Member of Parliament for the West Gonja constituency and the first Regional Commissioner of the Northern Region during the First Republic under Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah. Mahama’s father also served as a senior presidential advisor during Ghana’s Third Republic under Dr.Hilla Limann who was overthrown in 1981 by Jerry Rawlings.

Mahama started his primary education at the Accra Newtown Experimental School (ANT1) and completed it at Achimota School before completing secondary school at Ghana Secondary School (Tamale, Northern region). He proceeded to the University of Ghana, Legon, receiving a bachelor’s degree in history in 1981 and a postgraduate diploma in communication studies in 1986. As a student, he was a member of Commonwealth Hall (Legon). He also studied at the Institute of Social Sciences in Moscow in the Soviet Union, specializing in social psychology; he obtained a postgraduate degree in 1988.

After completing his undergraduate education, Mahama taught history at the secondary school level for a few years. Upon his return to Ghana after studying in Moscow, he worked as the Information, Culture and Research Officer at the Embassy of Japan in Accra between 1991 and 1995. From there he moved to the anti-poverty non-governmental organisation (NGO) Plan International’s Ghana Country Office, where he worked as International Relations, Sponsorship Communications and Grants Manager between 1995 and 1996. In 1993, he participated in a professional training course for Overseas Public Relations Staff, organized by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo. He also participated in a management development course organized by Plan International (RESA) in Nairobi, Kenya.

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