Military coup changed his life

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ACCRA: Ghana’s John Dramani Mahama, sworn in as president yesterday following the sudden death of John Atta Mills, says he was forever changed by his boyhood experiences during a 1966 military coup.

The 53-year-old politician, who had been vice-president, was born in Bole Bamboi in northern Ghana and holds degrees in history and communications, say Ghanian media.

He worked at Japan’s embassy in Ghana in the early 1990s before being elected to parliament as a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party.

He later became the chairman of the West Africa Caucus at the Pan African Parliament in Pretoria, before deceased president Mills tipped him for the vice-presidency.

Mills died on Tuesday at a hospital in Accra after an unspecified illness.

Mahama, according to a recently published memoir, grew up as a child of privilege. In the book, My First Coup d’Etat – And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa, he describes his experiences at an elite boarding school in the capital, Accra, where he was drilled in the customs of Ghana’s former colonial power, Britain.

“The history and prestige (of the Achimota boarding school) did not stop me from hating it,” he wrote.

In the book’s first chapter, he vividly recalls the day in 1966 when he learned that Ghana’s founding president, Kwame Nkrumah, had been ousted in a military coup.

“When I look back on my life it’s clear to me that this moment marked the awakening of my consciousness,” he wrote.

Mahama served as communication minister from 1998 to 2001 and as the spokesman for the NDC between 2001 and 2004, when the party was in opposition, according to local media. – Sapa-AFP

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