Ghana’s Former President Mahama Launches Russian Language Version of his Political Memoir

Ghana's former president John Mahama has launched the Russian language translation of his memoir, ‘My First Coup d'État: Memories from the Lost Decades of Africa’.

As part of the political election campaign and solicit support for the presidential bid, Ghana’s former president John Mahama has launched the Russian language translation of his memoir, ‘My First Coup d’État: Memories from the Lost Decades of Africa’ at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. The book was published by Bloomsbury back in July 2012.

Speaking about the book published in July 2012, Mahama said it is a memoir chronicling his upbringing as a young African boy as well as the history of Ghana and Africa during the times of political and economic instability between the 1970s and 1990s. He mentioned that the book has also been translated into Portuguese. 

He recalled in its first chapter the day in 1966 when he learned of the ousting of Ghana’s founding president, Kwame Nkrumah, 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. It changed my life and influenced all the moments that followed.”

Mahama highlighted a chapter of the book that he believed would interest the Russian audience the most, recalling his time as a student at the Institute of Social Sciences in Moscow during the era of Gorbachev and the Perestroika— the ‘restructuring’ of Russian society and economy.

He shared fond memories of his philosophy lecturer, Gudoshnik, who was initially unsure about teaching the orthodox philosophy of socialism as it was in the textbook provided. Gudoshnik, he noted, decided to have a more interactive approach to teaching, saying, “We’re going to learn from each other. I’ll tell you what’s in the textbook, and you tell me what you know and what you think about it.”

Mahama expressed gratitude to the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dmitriy Savelyev, a member of the Russian State Duma, the Russia-Ghana Parliamentary Friendship Association and his old friends and comrades who helped in translating the book and organising the launch event. He also acknowledged his friend and editor of the book, Nana Ama Danquah, who encouraged him to share his stories in a book for the benefit of society.

The former Ghanaian president encouraged the audience to read the book to satisfy their curiosity and to discover the African story told in an easy language to read and in a journalistic form. Mahama expressed hope that the book would find a place in Russian academia for those interested in learning more about Africa.

Mahama received an honorary doctorate in the field of Public Administration, from the Ekiti State University of Nigeria, formerly affiliated to the Obafemi Awolowo University in “recognition of his politico-socio economic development of Ghana and Africa at various stages of his political career.” Later the same university passed a resolution to name its Faculty of Management Science after him.

In March 2016, University of Aberdeen held a special convocation to confer an honorary degree of Doctors of Laws (LLD) on President John Mahama. He has also attended numerous conferences and won many fellowships, including a study as a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, United States. He is also a Bill Gates Fellow.

Mahama received the 2016 African Political Leader of the Year Award from the African Leadership Magazine in South Africa. In October 2022, Mahama was honored by Liberty University with a Global Leadership and Economic Impact Award in Virginia, USA. This award was to celebrate him for governing wisely, “advocating and achieving a consistent track record on economic development, women’s participation in education, and enhancing economic growth.”

Mahama’s father served as a senior presidential advisor during Ghana’s Third Republic under Hilla Limann who was overthrown in 1981 by Jerry Rawlings. As a staunch member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mahama was first elected to the Parliament of Ghana in the 1996. In January 2009, he was sworn into office as the Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana with John Evan Atta Mills as President. After winning the elections with 50.70% of the total valid votes cast, Mahama became the president from July 2012 to January 2017. He is currently in the race for the forthcoming early December 2024 presidential election in the Republic of Ghana.

Kester Kenn Klomegah
Kester Kenn Klomegah
MD Africa Editor Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia's economic cooperation with African countries.