Bye Bye! Kofi Annan Goes Home

Soldiers lifting Annan’s casket for the final journey after the funeral service yesterday

The mortal remains of the former United Nations (UN) Secretary General and son of Ghana, Busumuru Kofi Annan was finally laid to rest yesterday at the Burma Camp Military Cemetery.

At a solemn pre-burial service held at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC), the world bid farewell to a man whose personality defied borders.

Present at the event were diplomats and dignitaries from across the globe who paid their last respects to the global icon whose commitment to peace around the world earned him the prestigious Noble Peace Award.

Dignitaries

Chief among them were President Akufo-Addo, his Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and their spouses, Rebecca and Samira, as well as top government officials.

Former Presidents Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor and John Mahama, as well as Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, were all at the ceremony.

Also present were leaders across the world such as UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, Ivorian President, Alassane Quattara, Liberian President, George Weah, Namibian President, Dr Hage Geingob, President of Equatorial Guinea Obiang Nguema and President of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio.

The rest include President of Ethiopia Mulatu Teshome, Prime Minister of Niger Brigi Rafini, Angolan Vice President, Joao Manuel Goncalves, Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Her Royal Highness, Princess Beatrix and Princess Mabel of the Netherlands.

Also at the event were former Nigerian leaders, Olusegun Obasanjo and General Abdul Salam Abubakar, former German President, Horst Kohler, former Finnish leader, Tarja Halonem, former Slovenian President, Dr Danilo Turk, former Gambian Vice President, Fatoumata Tambajang and former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.

The Speaker of Parliament, Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye, members of the diplomatic corps, traditional rulers, security chiefs, ministers, legislators and influential people from the ECOWAS sub-region attended the ceremony.

In the live telecast on all radio and television across the world, President Akufo-Addo paid glowing tribute to the memory of the departed global icon.

Tribute

President Akufo-Addo, in his tribute, said Mr Annan brought considerable renown to Ghana by his position and conduct and comportment in the global arena.

“Charming, cosmopolitan, consensus-builder, elegant, eloquent, gentle-mannered, modest, polyglot, proud African, peacemaker, quintessential diplomat-these words are still inadequate to capture the fullness of the personality of Kofi Annan, one of the truly iconic figures of modern times.

“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.”

The President noted that despite the “unjustified attacks” on him, trying to blame him for the genocide in Rwanda and Srebrenica when he was head of UN Peace Operations, Mr Annan “never lost his moral compass, as he showed when he stood up to the might of the United States of America when she was embarking on her ill-fated intervention in Iraq.”

He said Mr Annan’s “epic but unavailing effort to establish a supremacy of international law over the actions of the world’s greatest power won him the admiration of all right-thinking persons,” adding, “History has vindicated him.”

“Undoubtedly, he excelled in the various undertakings of his life, leaving in his trails most pleasant memories. His was a life well lived.”

President Akufo-Addo said Mr Annan was an ardent believer in the capacity of the Ghanaian and African to chart their own course onto the path of progress and prosperity.

“He (Busumuru Atta Annan) found the vision of a ‘Ghana Beyond Aid,’ and indeed an ‘Africa Beyond Aid’ very appealing.

He recalled the “sensitive, deeply appreciated advice” Mr Annan gave him when he became President of Ghana in 2017, saying, “Ghana, Africa and the world have suffered greatly from his passing.”

The last time I saw Mr. Annan was in March 2018 when the former UN chief came to inform me, much to my discomfiture, that he could no longer continue to serve as Chancellor of Ghana’s premier university, the University of Ghana, Legon, since he had served the two terms permitted by the statutes of the university.”

“I bemoaned my ill-luck, even though, as life would have it, the university has found in Mary Chinery-Hesse, his old and trusted friend, a worthy successor,” the president said.

The incumbent UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on his part, described Busumuru as an exceptional global leader, whose words were tough and wise.

“Kofi Annan was the United Nations and the United Nations was him,” Mr. Guterres said in his tribute.

Wife’s Tribute

The widow, Nane Maria Annan, thanked her late husband for all the wondrous moments they had together while he was alive.

According to her, Kofi Annan, who had a courageous heart, was compassionate and able to touch the lives of many whose names the world do not even know.

“He challenged all of us to work for a better world right where we are in our homes, villages, towns and in our cities. All you needed to do is to take one small step and another,” she said.

She indicated that Kofi Annan was always excited to return to Ghana after serving humanity in different parts of the world.

“I remember how excited he always was returning home, home to Ghana. On arrival he will draw in the air, feel the breeze and he will look so happy. He always believed that his inner strength and sense of humour came from his deep roots here, and I want to thank Ghana for giving us an extraordinary human being,” she added.

“My love, you are now back home, we stopped after your own journey, may you rest in peace. But may your belief and compassion continue to inspire us and guide our steps wherever we are,” Nane added.

His children-Kofi, Ama and Nina- thanked him for guiding and protecting them over the years, as well as the love and affection he gave them.

For them, there is no such thing as goodbye instead their only prayer for their late father was to go and prepare a place for them to meet again in heaven.

Kofi Annan died on August 18 this year after a short illness in the Swiss city of Berne at the age of 80.

Appreciation

The family has since thanked the government, people of Ghana and well-wishers across the world, including the United Nations and the various leaders and their representatives for the love shown them throughout the funeral of their beloved.

By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent

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