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John Atta Mills, President of Ghana, died today at 68. Mills had just celebrated his birthday on Saturday.

RELATED: John Atta Mills Dead At 68

Though his death comes as a shock to many and leaves Ghana in a state of mourning, Mills has left a legacy that few African presidents can claim. His leadership was recognized internationally as a hallmark of what a developing nation can achieve if it stays steady on its course of fair governance and commitment to serving its people.

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A highlight of his presidency came in 2009 when U.S. President Barack Obama visited the nation of 24 million and delivered remarks before the country’s parliament.

“I have come here to Ghana for a simple reason,” the US president said: “The 21st Century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington, but by what happens in Ghana as well,” Obama said.

Watch Obama’s Visit To Ghana Below

To better help you learn more about the late President, NewsOne has put together a list of facts that you may not have known about Mr. Mills.

1) John Atta Mills Mills was born on July 21, 1944 at Tarkwa in western Ghana.

2)Mills was a law professor at the University of Ghana Legon. He began as a lecturer and rose to the rank of senior editor over a 25-year period.

3) In 1971, he was selected for the Fulbright Scholar program at Stanford Law School.

4) Mills was highly educated, earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Ghana Legon and a Ph.D in Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

5) Between 1997 and 2000, Mills served as Vice-President of Ghana.

6) After being nominated by his party, National Democratic Congress or (NDC), to be their candidate for president in the 2000 elections. Mills took on veteran politician, John Agyekum Kufuor, who was running as the candidate for the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). Kufuor defeated Mills after two rounds of voting. Mills ran against Kufuor in the 2004 elections, and was again defeated.

7) Mills was a fan of hockey. In 2006, he inaugurated the National Hockey Stadium with the hope that it would be a premier host of hockey events on the continent.  Source: Modern Ghana

8) Mills was married to Ernestina Naadu Mills, an educator. He has a son, Sam Kofi Atta Mills, with Ruby Addo.

9) A tax expert, Mills published several works on taxation during his lifetime including the following:

  • Taxation of Periodical or Deferred Payments arising from the Sale of Fixed Capital (1974)
  • Exemption of Dividends from Income taxation: A critical Appraisal (1977) In: Review of Ghana Law, 1997, 9: 1, p. 38–47
  • Report of the Tax Review Commission, Ghana, parts 1–3 (1977)
  • Ghana’s Income Tax laws and the Investor. (An inter-faculty lecture published by the University of Ghana)
  • Ghana’s new investment code : an appraisal (1993) In: University of Ghana Law Journal, 1993, vol. 18, p. 1–29

10) When he took power, he began an austerity program and “presided over the country’s first commercial oil production, promising that – unlike some African countries – his government would spend the newfound oil revenue responsibly,” according to BBC.