Ghanaians in Geneva woke up on the morning of Saturday August 18, 2018 to hear of the demise of our illustrious grandfather, father, husband, brother, friend, colleague and mentor His Excellency Kofi Annan. Hoping this was fake news we called some reliable sources to crosscheck the information we had received. Unfortunately, this was not fake news.
At the same time, we continued to receive WhatsApp messages from our compatriots in Ghana and elsewhere to establish the veracity of the news they had also heard. The unpleasant duty of confirming that Kofi Annan was no more, was ours. Our hearts were heavy and broken.
Ghana, Africa and indeed the rest of the world had lost an outstanding individual. Our thoughts & prayers are with his family. Thank you to his wife Nane Annan and his children Ama and Kojo for sharing him with the rest of the world. Your loss is our loss. May the good Lord give them the courage and wisdom to go through this difficult period.
Those of us who live in Geneva and its environs lived close to Kofi Annan. Some of us were close to him and some were less close. All of us however, enjoyed the association with his name. He made us very proud to be Ghanaians and indeed, Africans.
Geneva is a city of the United Nations and the United Nations has lost one of her most respected, admired and adored Secretary Generals. Kofi Annan joined the United Nations in 1980 and rose steadily through the ranks to become the Secretary General in 1997. He served as the seventh UN Secretary General between 1997 and 2006.
So impressive were his achievements that his peers described him as: an exemplary humanitarian; a champion of peace; a distinguished career diplomat; an outstanding international civil servant; an awesome statesman; a decent and humble gentleman; a towering global leader and icon; an unwavering champion for peace and justice; a diplomatic rockstar; and above all an outstanding human-being.
It is truly difficult to measure the full impact of Kofi Annan’s contribution to the world. We will remember him for many of his achievements including: his work in reforming the United Nations; his work in relation to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); his mediation during the election dispute in Kenya; his role in the creation of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria; the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in promoting global peace; as well as his pioneering role as first UN Secretary General from sub Saharan Africa. Most of these achievements took place during a very volatile decade marked by wars and this makes his feat even more spectacular.
Our tears give way to joy when we remember his legacy and the inspiration we draw from his life.
His stellar record at the United Nations should REMIND US THAT GHANA AND INDEED AFRICA IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING PEOPLE WHO CAN PROVIDE HONEST, TRUTHFUL AND OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL. This should inspire all our leaders.
His humble beginnings in Ghana did not stop him from working hard and ascending to the highest position in the United Nations. A REMINDER TO THE YOUNG THAT WE MUST NOT BE HELD PRISONERS BY OUR HUMBLE BEGINNINGS BUT MUST STRIVE TO GET TO THE TOP OF OUR CHOSEN CAREERS.
Based on his outstanding performance at the United Nations, there were calls for him to stand elections in Ghana and become President of the Republic of Ghana. Kofi Annan is said to have turned down this offer/request, A REMINDER THAT LEADERS MUST KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO AND HAVE THE COURAGE TO DO SO.
Despite his humble and soft-spoken nature, Kofi Annan boldly referred to the US invasion of Iraq as illegal even though the US was the largest financial contributor to the United Nations, A REMINDER THAT TRUTH MUST BE SPOKEN EVEN DURING DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES.
After his role as UN Secretary General, he continued to embody human rights, peace and development and worked as the Chair of the Elders, an independent group of global leaders committed to world peace and progress, A REMINDER THAT WE CAN CONTINUE TO CONTRIBUTE POSITIVELY TO THIS WORLD EVEN AFTER OUR RETIREMENT.
So, yes, there is so much inspiration to draw from his amazing life. We must aspire to be better human-beings and play our role in making this world a much better place.
This is probably the best tribute we can pay to Kofi Annan.
Geneva will miss you.
Thank you Mr Kofi Annan.
Rest in perfect peace in the bosom of your maker.
Columnist: Kofi Amekudzi