Ghana’s new President, John Dramani Mahama, welcomed VOA English to Africa host Shaka Ssali to Osu Castle, the presidential residence in Accra, where they discussed the sudden death of former President John Atta Mills and the challenges and opportunities facing Ghana.
In Ssali’s interview, President Mahama described his sadness when he heard the news about the untimely death of his predecessor, calling him a father figure (link to story).
“It has been a very strange feeling to both receive condolences and congratulations at the same time. Our late president was a friend and a mentor, and I feel honored and privileged to have served under him,” President Mahama said.
VOA English to Africa has provided extensive coverage of the transition in Ghana following the death of President Mills. Excerpts from the interview with President Mahama, which was recorded earlier this month, have aired on VOA television and radio programs, and on the www.VOAafrica.com website. The entire interview is expected to run on Ssali’s popular Straight Talk Africa program Wednesday, August 22.
The new president characterized Ghana as a “beacon of liberation,” since it was the first African nation to receive independence from Great Britain in 1957. After an initial string of military coups, Ghana has more recently experienced several successful elections.
In the interview, President Mahama also explained the “shared vision” he and the Ghanaian people have for Ghana’s future.
“We want to create a country where our people can live in decency and dignity, a country where our mothers are not dying in the process of giving birth, a country where our children are not dying prematurely from malaria,” President Mahama said.
Regarding his future role as head of state, President Mahama confirmed that he will be a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections in December 2012.
Straight Talk Africa with Shaka Ssali is one of VOA’s most popular programs, offering a place for guests to discuss topics of special interest to Africans, including politics, economic development, press freedom, health, social issues and conflict resolution.