Early life and education
He was born on 29th November 1958 in Damongo, capital of West Gonja district, in a political family. His father,
Emmanuel Adama Mahama, was a Member of Parliament from the West Gonja constituency and the first Regional Commissioner of the Northern Region during Ghana’s
John Dramani Mahama spent the first years of his life with his mother, Abiba Nnaba, in the Northern Region, and then he moved to Accra to live with his father, who imbued him with a strong passion for education. He received his elementary education at ‘Achimota School’, where he began defending other children from bullies, and later attended the ‘Ghana Secondary School’ in Tamale. He moved on to become a student at the
University of Ghana, in Legon, receiving a bachelor’s degree in history in 1981.
He furthered his education by embarking on Post Graduate Studies in Communication also at the University of Ghana, in the School of Communication Studies, which he completed in 1986. His thirst for knowledge took him to Moscow, Russia for a Post Graduate Diploma in Social Psychology from the Institute of Social Sciences.
After receiving his BA, John Dramani Mahama moved back to Tamale, where he taught history at ‘Ghana Secondary School’. However, the political and economic situation in Ghana forced him to flee to Nigeria, where he rejoined his father. In 1983 he came back, with a strong desire to build bridges between people through communication, so he enrolled in a post-graduate program in communication studies at the University of Ghana, which he graduated in 1986.
He then went to Moscow, in the former Soviet Union, at the Institute of Social Sciences, where he received a post-graduate degree in social psychology in 1988. While in Moscow, he grew more and more disillusioned with socialism, realizing that Ghana has to find its own
transformative way, away from ideological dogmas.
After completing his education abroad, John Dramani Mahama became Officer of Information, Culture and Research at the Japanese Embassy in Accra until 1995. From there he moved to the anti-poverty non-governmental organization PLAN International’s Ghana Country Office, where he worked as International Relations, Sponsorship Communications and Grants Manager between 1995 and 1996.
1996 marks the year of John Dramani Mahama’s entering into politics. He joined the National Democratic Congress and, being an eloquent champion of the underprivileged, he was elected to the Parliament of Ghana to represent the Bole/Bamboi Constituency for a four-year term. He was re-elected in 2000 and in 2004.
During this time, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Communications in 1997, full Minister of Communications from 1998 until 2001, Minority Parliamentary Spokesman for Communications from 2001 until 2005, and Minority Parliamentary Spokesman for Foreign Affairs from 2005 until 2008.
While being Minister of Communications, John Dramani Mahama also served as the Chairman of the National Communications Authority, and played a key role in stabilising Ghana’s telecom sector.
He also served as a member of the Pan African Parliament based in Pretoria, South Africa from 2004 to 2011, where he was Chairman of the West Africa Caucus.
On 7 January 2009, John Dramani Mahama became the Vice-President of Ghana, remaining in the post until President John Atta Mills’ untimely death on 24 July 2012, when, in line with Ghana’s Constitution, he became President of the Republic.
In December 2012, he was elected President of Ghana for a four-year term. He thus made political history by becoming the first Ghanaian head of state to have been born after Ghana’s declaration of independence on 6 March 1957.
During his entire life and throughout his political career, President John Dramani Mahama was a champion of the underprivileged, fighting for them against all sorts of bullies; a unifier, moving above tribal politics; a strong supporter of public education for all; and a visionary, seeking to transform Ghana in fundamental ways.
Continuing his legacy as one of the front-runners of a prosperous and modern Ghana, John Dramani Mahama is now running for a second term for the Presidency of Ghana. While many new projects have been implemented since his last election, John Dramani Mahama vows to continue his reforms if elected, reforms that will touch some of the most important issues Ghana is facing at the moment: development of the infrastructure across the country, creation of jobs for the young graduates, affordable housing projects, improvement of quality in the educational system.
On a more personal note, JM, as he is colloquially called, is a Christian, born and raised a Presbyterian but now a member of Assemblies of God, living in a multi-faith family consisting of Christians and Muslims; he loves afrobeat music, is a passionate reader and a consummate writer, and has a vivid interest in farming, information and communication technology, and environmental issues.
His book, “My First Coup d’État and Other True Stories From the Lost Decades of Africa”, published in July 2012, has won international praise for describing a world of love, fear, faith, despair, loss, longing, and hope despite all else.
Because bringing hope despite all else is JM’s unique way to bring out the best in all the people, and especially in all Ghanaian people, which he so passionately serves.