Final farewell to UN’s Kofi Annan at Ghana state funeral
AFP: World dignitaries laid to rest former UN secretary general Kofi Annan in his native Ghana on Thursday, with calls to keep alive the legacy of a “stubborn optimist” to create a better, more peaceful world.
His widow Nane Maria led hundreds of mourners, including world leaders past and present, traditional rulers and global royalty, and called her husband an “extraordinary” person who had a “joy of life”. “My love, you are now back home where you started your long journey. But may your wisdom and compassion continue to guide us, wherever we are,” she told his funeral in the capital, Accra.
His son, Kojo, said his father had dedicated his life to the ideals of unity, equality, love, peace and respect.
“The greatest tribute we could ever pay is to follow his example,” he added to conclude a three-hour ceremony of tributes, prayer and song.
Annan led the UN from 1997 to 2006 and was the first from sub-Saharan Africa to do so. He died on August 18 aged 80 at his home in Switzerland after a short illness.
Thousands of ordinary Ghanaians this week paid their final respects as his coffin lay in state during three days of national mourning.
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo called him “one of the truly iconic figures of modern times”.
– ‘Stubborn optimist’ –
Many ordinary Ghanaians described him as a father-figure and a source of national pride, while his brother, Kobina, told the congregation that he was not just a leader and statesman.
“We lost a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather and an uncle, a man of deep conviction who was as committed to instilling the values of fairness, integrity, kindness and service in each of us as he was to advocating for peace and human rights around the world,” he said.
“Stubborn optimist that he was, he would want us all to look forward with hope and keep striving to create a freer, fairer and more peaceful world.”
Current UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres praised his close friend as an “exceptional global leader” who was dignified, courageous and a man of “integrity, dynamism and dedication”.
“Kofi Annan was the United Nations and the United Nations was him,” he added.