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"‘Do or die’ Is An English Idiom, You Don’t Understand It" – Mahama Justifies Controversial Comments

Former President John Dramani Mahama has justified his recent comments about the 2024 elections, saying he only used an English idiomatic expression which does not connote the interpretation being spun on it.

On Tuesday, September 7 at the start of the resumption of his Thank You tour in the Bono East Region, the 2020 flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) said the next polls must be won at the polling stations and it will be “do or die”.

“We have learnt our lessons from happenings during the 2020 polls,” he said on Techiman-based Akina FM.


“The 2024 elections will be won or lost at the polling station. It will be do-or-die at the polling stations. The right thing must be done during the polls. We will win the elections at the polling station and won’t wait for collation centre results nor petition the Supreme Court if aggrieved,” he said.

The comments stirred controversy as most people felt it was incendiary.

But in an interview on Moonlite FM in Sunyani on Wednesday, September 8, Mr Mahama said the comments were harmless and “those who don’t understand English should stop the school interpretation”.


He insisted that “there was fraud in [the 2020] elections. . .that is why I said we learned lesson from it”.

“So the next elections,” he said in Twi, “we won’t wait and go to the Supreme Court.” He added in English: “We will do it at the polling station and collation centre and I say it will be do or die.”

For him, Africans, as Ghanaians are, should know that proverbs are part of daily expressions and are used especially in situations where use of plain language will not be prudent.


“In English, we have idiomatic expressions. Those who dropped out of school do not understand idiomatic expressions. Do or die means a critical assignment you have and you must do the needful or perish. And so you must do the needful,” he stated in English, changing tongue to Twi by saying: “I meant NDC must not wait to go to the Supreme Court again. What we must do at the polling station and collation center must be done!”.


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