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05.11.2008 Elections

Dr Edward Mahama - I Discovered New Talents

Dr Edward Mahama - I Discovered New Talents

There are people who were born and gifted with various talents but have been able to discover new talents, passions and interests through curiosity while growing up.

Dr Edward N. Mahama, flag bearer of the People's National Convention (PNC) belongs to this wonderful stock which is famous for exhibiting great skills in various undertakings, be it football or medicine.

As a schoolboy Dr Mahama was so talented in football that he earned the nickname Pele, after the man generally regarded as the world's most skilful footballer of all time.

Several decades later, the Nalerugi-born boy abandoned the football field for the theatre as a medical practitioner, redirecting his energies into delivering babies and saving lives and also addressing people's welfare on the political platform.

At present, he is dreaming of becoming Ghana's next President and turn his passions and philosophies into reality. He is well known for his dress sense, penchant for bow ties and sometimes wears smock with a hat to match.

His political slogan, "Two sure, two direct", caught on well with the electorate during the 2000 elections.

As we budge into the presidential election in December, the Junior Graphic decided to visit him for a chat. During the interview Dr Mahama said he was very passionate about children's welfare, health issues, education and the total well-being of Ghanaians.

He recounted his struggles through education to realise his dreams as a medical doctor, noting with sadness that most people he grew up with ended up as school drop-outs, or could not climb high the academic ladder.

For him, there was no type of hardship he never encountered. "There is no way one can be born and bred in the northern part of Ghana without that person assisting the family on the farm, or walking several miles to school and back because of the absence of commercial vans ('trotro') and bicycles as there exist today," he said with a sigh.

He was born in 1945 to Kuloa-Naa Nasigrie and Madam Tani Nasigrie of Sumniboma, a village seven miles northeast of Nalerigu, the traditional seat of the Mamprusis of the Northern Region.

Even before he was born misfortune struck his family. While his mother was seven months pregnant, his father died. At birth, he was named Zinya (meaning, he never saw his father).

Zinya was renamed Mahama by his uncle, Issifu Kpanarana Maasu, according to Muslem custom.


Young Mahama was one of the pioneers to enrol at the Nalerigu Primary School started by his elder brother, the late G.Y. Mahama.

He benefited from the shortening of the school year that occurred when the beginning of the school calendar was changed from January to September. He therefore, entered secondary school in September 1960, instead of January 1961.

Again, after the General Certificate of Education (Ordinary Level) examination in September 1965, Dr Mahama was one of the few students invited to the University of Ghana, Legon, to pursue a preliminary course in Science for one year, instead of the then two-year Sixth Form.

When Dr Mahama received admission to the University of Ghana, Legon, for the pre-Science course, he had no money for transport from Tamale to Accra but for the benevolence of the Special Assistant to the Northern Students' Programme of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana he would not have made it to Accra.

After the preliminary course in Science, Dr Mahama was accepted for the pre-medical course. But before he could complete his course Dr Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup d'etat in 1966.

Concerned about the possibility of completing his course, Dr Mahama applied for a scholarship as a private student with the Baptist Mission which had a medical centre at Nalerigu.

He was awarded the scholarship and became the first Ghanaian student at the University of Ghana Medical School to opt out of government scholarship and be on his own since the Baptist Mission was sponsoring him.

Dr Mahama went back to Nalerigu as a medical doctor in September 1973 and in December that same year he married his wife, then Miss Comfort Tapang.

Auntie Comfort was a Certificate "A" teacher but is now a pharmacist, having graduated from the University of Illinois in the USA. The Mahamas have four children.

Story by Hadiza Billa Quansah