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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Profile: Mohammed ibn Chambas
Mohammed ibn Chambas
The crisis has put the Ghanaian in the limelight

The man charged with securing peace in the Ivory Coast also played a key part in the resolution of the civil war in Liberia.

He used to be called David Chambas.

The teacher in the missionary school in Bimbilla, his hometown in the North of Ghana, where he started school in the early 1950s, renamed his pupils using Christian names, whether they liked it or not.

But being a Muslim, he made the correction to Mohammed when he was old enough to ignore the edict of an overzealous school instructor.

Dr Mohammed ibn Chambas was born in December 1950.

His father, Alhaji Alhassan Chambas, was a district commissioner in the government of Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

Dr Chambas is grateful that both parents, who are still alive, saw him grow into a man of international stature.

Academic

He studied political science at the University of Ghana in Accra, and was active in student politics.

His nickname was Chambo. In fact, his friends, and some journalists, including my insolent self, still call him Chambo, to which he usually responds, "Hey".

The man is young at heart, a quality that compliments his lean, bespectacled choirboy looks.

And yet, he is a serious man, so serious that he holds two doctorate degrees, one in each hand. He has a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University in New York, and a juris doctorate in Law from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Politician

Dr Chambas was Ghana's deputy foreign minister for several years, and played a key role in the resolution of the civil war in Liberia.

He also served as first deputy speaker of parliament.

But while he was winning the peace in Monrovia, he was losing his parliamentary seat in the general elections of 1996.

Still, ordinary Ghanaians acknowledged his achievements, and in a poll in 1997, people phoned in to a radio programme to choose him as Minister of the Year.

However, for reasons that remain something of a mystery, the Rawlings administration removed him from the foreign ministry and put him in charge of primary education.

'Humility'

The man who, only months earlier was hobnobbing with regional leaders, was now engaged at kindergarten graduation ceremonies.

The fact that he did not quit was perhaps a reflection of his humility.

Two years ago, he regained his parliamentary seat. But President John Kufuor put him up, successfully, for the top job in the regional West African grouping, Ecowas.

Dr Chambas is soft spoken and smooth. He has a daughter, Shakira, with his wife Khadija.

He loves jazz, highlife, and in his own words, "tries to dance to salsa."

He will need diplomatic skills just as intricate as those Latin dance steps, as he ponders a solution to the conflict in the Ivory Coast.

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 ON THIS STORY
Mohammed ibn Chambas
"You cannot negotiate while people are killing each other"

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03 Oct 02 | Africa
02 Oct 02 | Africa
02 Oct 02 | Africa
27 Sep 02 | Africa
27 Sep 02 | Africa
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