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Monday, September 03, 2012

My First Coup d'État and Other True Stories From the Lost Decades of Africa by John Dramani Mahama

The small boy, only seven years old, waited for his father to pick him up from school and watched as the other children were picked up by their parents.  His father never turned up and he had to stay at school for the holidays while the teachers searched for someone in his family.  He found out that his father, a Member of Parliament, had been arrested in a coup d'etat and put in jail.

This coup d'etat had a profound effect on John Dramani Mahama's life.  The sufferings of his father and the economic hardships of Ghana later made him determined to help his country on the road to democracy.

This coup was apparently the first of several. Mahama saw how violence and dictatorships caused poverty, corruption,  fear and exile for talented people who wanted to escape to prosperous and democratic countries.  Life was not difficult all of the time, however.  Some of Mahama's teenage years were idyllic.  He enjoyed going to discos with his brothers and enjoyed good times during the years when his father got out of jail and established a business.

A clever boy, Mahama was chosen by his father from his many sons to attend a private boarding school.  Here he was told that he had great potential and the 'ability to make his father very proud'. He studied at university in Ghana and at Moscow. A socialist teacher at school made him attracted to seeing Soviet Communism in action.

Mahama, who is now the President of Ghana, tells an interesting story about his background and his early education.  There are exotic tales about the history and legends of Ghana and his large family.  I also found the part about Mahama's stay in Russia and his disillusionment with Communism especially interesting.

I didn't know much about Ghana before reading the book and My First Coup d'État and Other True Stories From the Lost Decades of Africa has made me want to know more about it.

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