World leaders bid farewell to Kofi Annan

Former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan.

Accra,   World leaders bid farewell to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at his funeral in his home country of Ghana on Thursday.

On Monday, Annan’s body was transferred to the West African nation from Switzerland, where he died on August 18 at the age of 80. However, it wasn’t immediately clear why the process took so long.

Among those who attended the state funeral of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate at the International Conference Centre in the Ghanaian capital were UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, senior government and military officials as well as dignitaries from across the world, Efe news reported.

“Kofi Annan brought considerable renown to Ghana as UN Secretary-General and by his conduct and comportment in the global arena,” Akufo-Addo posted to Twitter.

“He gave his life to making peace where there was conflict, to defending the voiceless who were powerless, to promoting virtue where there was evil.”

Speaking at the funeral, Guterres said Annan was an exceptional leader who saw the UN as a force for good. “As we face the headwinds of our troubled and turbulent times, let us always be inspired by the legacy of Kofi Annan,” he said.

“Our world needs it now more than ever.”

There were hymns and a performance by soprano and human rights campaigner Barbara Hendricks, the BBC reported. Annan’s nephew Kojo Amoo-Gottfried read a eulogy, describing how he had led a hunger strike in his secondary school to protest against the quality of food in the dining hall.

There were also a moving tribute by his wife, Swedish lawyer and artist Nane Maria Annan. She thanked Ghana for giving the world such an extraordinary man and said her husband had an irresistible aura of radiant warmth.

“His legacy would live on through his foundation and through all of us,” she said.

The former queen of the Netherlands, Princess Beatrix, and her daughter-in-law Princess Mabel, who were close friends of Annan, were among the mourners.

Annan started his career at the UN in 1962 and 35 years later became the first person from sub-Saharan Africa to be appointed Secretary General.

His 1997-2006 term at the helm of the UN was marked by his programme to reform the institution and his efforts to draw support from the international community in Africa as well as leading the fight against AIDS.

In 2001, Annan and the UN were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “their work for a better organised and more peaceful world”.