On July 24, 2012, Ghana experienced something tragic: A sitting President died. And it is an election year. The atmosphere in Parliament, televised by Ghana Television (GTV), was that of shock and sadness as Members of Parliament displayed deeply saddened faces. By 8pm, the Vice President John Dramani Mahama was sworn in as President of the Republic of Ghana.
But four hours prior to this, just after the news had broken, Ghanaians took to Twitter to express their shock and sadness. Tweets of the President’s death hit the social media site before many of the media houses officially confirmed it.
Myjoyonline.com revised its abbreviated report published immediately after the death announcement with a much detailed one and a fitting image that symbolized the president’s departure hours later:
President John Evans Atta Mills is dead. He died at the 37 Military Hospital Tuesday afternoon. A statement signed by the Chief of Staff, Henry John Martey Newman confirmed the death.
Parliament is reconvening to swear in Vice-President John Dramani Mahama as the substantive president in accordance with Article 62 of the 1992 Constitution.
It also provided a link to the official statement from the Information Ministry confirming the death.
On Twitter, the president’s death was the trending topic in the Ghanaian Twittersphere.
@MsAbenaAnnan: Sad day for #Ghana – Our president John Evans Atta Mills has died #johnevansattamills
@nii_ayertey: #Ghana Our president John Evans Atta Mills has passed on. The man who died many times before his death. May His soul rest in peace. #fb
As the news developed, more reactions and information began to leak:
@MsAbenaAnnan: Mobile networks not providing best of services right now in Ghana since prez death announcement -calls keep dropping. #deathofpresidentmills
@MsAbenaAnnan: EXCLUSIVE info from inside sources: #PresidentMills collapsed and was rushed to 37 Military Hospital today. He was dead upon arrival. #ghana
@VickieRemoe: Radio journo says residents of Accra are gathering at the Kwame Nkrumah circle. Some market women have stopped selling #RIPMills #Ghana
@feathersproject: It’s now obvious why Obama visited Ghana and not Nigeria…
@yaw_p: I can sense a new sense of hope in the new president
The day following the swearing in of John Mahama as new President of Ghana, Twitter flooded with more tweets:
@adwoagyimah: Arise Ghana youth for your country. The nation demands your devotion…..
It is quite clear that the smooth political transition has instilled a sense of hope in democracy in the hearts of Ghanaians.