Edward N. Mahama


Born in 1945 to Kuloa-Naa Nasigrie and Madam Tani Nasigrie of Sumniboma , a village 7miles north-east of Nalerigu, the Traditional Seat of the Mamprusi tribe of Northern , Region, Ghana. Kuloa-Naa Nasigrie was a sub-chief (Prince) of the Kingship. The unfortunate situation of his birth was that his mother was seven months pregnant when his father died.

At birth then, he was called Zinya ( meaning he has not seen the father ) Zinya was renamed Mahama according to Moslem custom by his uncle, Issifu Kpanarana Maasu , the Spear Bearer and Chief Linguist of the Nayiri of Nalerigu. Traditionally, the Nayiri is the first of all the Chiefs in Northern Ghana. as he is the oldest son of Gbewaa from whom all the Northern Chiefs ; Yaa-Naa ( Chief of Yendi ), Bimbilla Naa ( Chief of Bimbilla ) Wa Naa ( Chief of Waa; Capital of the Upper West Region ) and others take their origins. Maasu himself was a staunch Moslem and forbade us from going to church but insisted we stayed in school. For this I remain grateful to him; because the drop out rate was considerable.

I was enrolled in the Nalerigu Primary School as one of the pioneers who started that school by my older brother, the late G. Y. Mahama ; who himself shared the loss of our father with being sacked from the only middle school in the whole then Northern Territories ( the present Northern Region, Upper East and Upper West Regions ). G.Y. Mahama was identified as one of the leaders who organized a strike at the Tamale school against the discriminatory policies of the colonial administrators

An interesting thing happened during the 1960 Ghana Population Census. I was one of a few bright students in Middle Form 2 picked to participate in the enumeration exercise. I was made a Seniour Enumerator and when I went to supervise the enumerator in one of the villages; lo and behold whom did I find? My class teacher! That ended that appointment right there.

In Primary and middle school. I was a member of the school soccer team and my friends called me Pele (after the Brazilian star; Mr. Abedi Pele of Ghana was probably still on his mother's laps) I benefited from the shortening of the school year that occurred when the school year was changed from starting in January to September by doing middle form 2 from January 1960 to July 1960 and then starting secondary form 1 in September 1960 instead of January 1961. Again after the Ordinary Level (General Certificate of Education ) examination in September 1965 I did so well that I was one of the few students invited to come to University of Ghana , Legon to do the Preliminary Course in Science for one year instead of the then two year Sixth Form. Incidentally. I received my results of the “O” level examination on 21st September 1965 (Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's Birthday).

When I received the invitation to Legon for the Pre-Science course I had no money to take transport from Tamale to Accra. I had used the little money I brought from Nalerigu to buy personal hygiene toiletries like soap to start the lower sixth form course at Tamale Secondary. It was the Special Assistance to the Northern student's policy of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah that enabled me to get money for transport on the bus to Accra. Otherwise I would have missed that opportunity

After the Preliminary Course in Science I was accepted for the Pre-Medical Course. I was doing the Preliminary Course in Science when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup d'etat in February 1966. I was concerned that my continued education may be jeopardized. I then in Medical School negotiated with the School authorities and the Scholarship Secretariat to become a private student under Baptist Mission Scholarship. The Baptist Mission has Hospital in Nalerigu , the Baptist Medical Centre. This was also to ensure that I would be able to return to my home town, Nalerigu instead of being posted by the Ministry of Health where ever they wanted. I was thus the first Ghanaian student at the University of Ghana Medical Student to opt out of Government Scholarship in order to have the opportunity to go back to my own area. I did exactly that ; I went back to Nalerigu as a Medical Doctor in September 1973 and in December that same year married my wife then Comfort Tapang. She is the daughter of my former Arts and Craft Teacher in Nalerigu Middle School, Mr Lanbobg Tapang, now Bunkpurugu Naa ( Chief of Bunkpurugu, a town in the north east corner of Ghana near the border with Togo ). Comfort was a Certificate “A” teacher when we married. She had no science education as the curriculum of the teacher training progrm did not include science. In America she went to school to study science and now holds a Pharmacy Degree from the University of Illinois, Chicago. She has her own Pharmacy shop and does encapsulations of antibiotics as well. My niece who went with us to the United States enrolled in Howard University Dental School and has returned with us to finish the Dental Degree Programme here at the University of Ghana Dental School. Comfort and I have four children. Our two older children are both in the United States of America. Ismail Baba Mahama is an Electronic Specialist with an Organization in the U.S. Our daughter, Rashidatu Mahama is in Law School in Michigan, USA. The third child, Ibrahim Ibn Mahama is at the Akosombo International School. The last born, Nasigrie Khaleed Mahama is at the University Primary, Legon.

When we left for America I told my mother we would be gone for 4 years but we got comfortably stranded in the Windy City, Chicago., Illinois for a total of 15 years, We returned in September 1990 and we have been home since.

Professor Ali Mazrui says the brain drain is caused mainly by two factors , the “ Push and the Pull “ factors. The two facors act in synergy and it takes what amounts to self denial to overcome these two factors in some situations.
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