Ghana’s illustrious son Kofi Annan has been buried today, September 13, after a state funeral attended by world leaders past and present, traditional authorities among others.
The funeral service held at the Accra International Conference Centre attracted people from all walks of life. He was buried at a Military Cemetery in Accra.
Annan led the UN from 1997 to 2006 as the first black African to occupy the secretary general position. He died on August 18 aged 80 at his home in Switzerland after a short illness.
The current head of the world body, Antonio Gutteres, attended the funeral in Accra. Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa was also present including other African heads of state such as Alassane Dramane Ouattara of Ivory Coast, George Weah of Liberia, Hage Geingob of Namibia, and Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger.
Ordinary Ghanaians and dignitaries paid their respects to Annan since his coffin was returned from Geneva and received with full honours on Monday.
Thousands of people also filed past his coffin, which was draped in the red, green and gold national flag.
In his tribute, the Secretary-General of the UN, António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres said: “Kofi Annan was the United Nations and the United Nations was Kofi Annan.”
According to Guterres, the late former Secretary-General of the UN, who died on August 18, 2018, in Switzerland after a short illness was “an exceptional global leader” and also “someone virtually anyone in the world could see themselves in. Those on the far reaches of poverty, conflict and despair always found in him an ally.”
Guterres continued: “Kofi Annan was courageous, speaking truth to power whilst subjecting himself to intense self-scrutiny.” Kofi Annan, he said, had an enormous mystical sense of the United Nations as a “force for good in the world of ills.”
Likened to Dag Hammarskjold, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, who died in a mysterious plane crash in Africa in 1961, Kofi Annan who was appointed as the seventh and the first black African Secretary-General of the United Nations on January 1, 1997 to December 31, 2006 was credited for revitalizing institutions of the United Nations, shaping what he called a new “norm of humanitarian intervention,” particularly in places where there was no peace for traditional peacekeepers to keep.
“All of these added up to a remarkable record of achievement,” said Guterres adding “Kofi Annan was the United Nations and the United Nations was him.”
Ghana’s president Akufo-Addo also described the global icon as someone who brought “considerable renown” to the West African nation.
“He brought considerable renown to our country by this position and by his conduct and comportment in the global arena.
“Indeed, the outpouring of tributes from the world over is an accurate measure of the man, a man who gave his life to making peace where there was conflict, to defending the voiceless who were powerless, to promoting virtue where there was evil,” Akufo-Addo remarked in his tribute at the funeral of the 80-year-old diplomat on Thursday, September 13, 2018 at the Accra International Conference Centre.
Born in Kumasi, the capital of Ghana’s Ashanti region, Annan devoted four decades of his working life to the UN, and was known for projecting quiet charisma to the role.
He was widely credited for raising the world body’s profile in global politics during his two terms of office, which included challenges including wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, as the world was reeling from the September 11 terror attacks in the United States, jointly with the UN “for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world”.
He left the post as one of the most popular — and recognisable — UN leaders ever, and was considered a “diplomatic rock star” in international diplomatic circles.
He kept up his diplomatic work, taking mediation roles in Kenya and Syria, and more recently heading an advisory commission in Myanmar on the crisis in Rakhine state.
He acted as a negotiator between the government and the opposition in Kenya after post-election violence at the end of 2007, leading to the formation of the Grand Coalition government.
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga will be at Thursday’s ceremony, his office said.
Others attending include Princess Beatrix, the former queen of the Netherlands, and her daughter-in-law Princess Mabel, who were close friends with Annan.
Annan is survived by his wife Nane Maria, children and grandchildren.