NDZ pays homage to ‘bridge-builder’ Annan
email@example.com KOFI Annan, the former secretary-general of the UN, was a gentle giant, said Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
She was speaking at a memorial service for Annan held at Unisa’s ZK Matthews Great Hall yesterday.
Annan, 80, died in Switzerland last Saturday.
Annan was described variously as a true nationalist, a trailblazer, an African elephant, a torch-bearer, and Africa’s brightest star.
Dlamini Zuma who was the keynote speaker, described Annan as a gentle and a level-headed leader who led from the front, even when the UN tackled burning issues in the world.
“The passing of Kofi Annan was reached with a sense of disbelief, we extend our condolences to his family, their loss is our loss and we thank them for sharing him with the world,” Dlamini Zuma said.
She said what singled Annan out from other leaders was the ability to understand the reality Africans faced, and how he had grown from the UN ranks since joining the organisation in 1962 at the age of 24.
“Kofi went on to find new ways of meeting realities Africans faced, that could have not been foreseen by the UN at the time it was established,” she said.
“He also understood that in moments of crisis a wise man builds bridges and not dams – he was a builder of bridges.
“One of his accomplishments was to build a bridge between the private sector and civil society.
“With the kind of leader he was, we will forever remain indebted – humility is a trait of great people and he was one of those people.
“Even in his retirement he was there to give advice,” she said.
Among the dignitaries was the executive director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; former UN high commissioner for human rights Judge Navi Pillay; Ghana High Commissioner George AyisiBoateng; and the former minister of finance, Trevor Manuel.
Mlambo-Ngcuka paid tribute to Annan and described him as a man who was loud but in a softspoken way, yet heard in all the corners of the world, an element that described the calibre of man he was.
“He literally fell with his boots on,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
She said he was a true voice for the voiceless, a voice which did not shy away from speaking for those who could not speak for themselves.
Annan was the 7th secretary-general of the UN and held that position from 1997 to 2006.
Before being elected as secretary-general, he headed the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations during a period which saw an unprecedented growth in the organisation’s field presence.
His first major initiative as UN chief was a plan for UN reform, presented to member states in July 1997.
Annan used his office to advocate for human rights, the rule of law, development and Africa, and he worked to bring the UN closer to people worldwide by forging ties with civil society, the private sector and other partners.
As secretary-general, he also galvanised global action to fight HIV/ Aids and combat terrorism.
Annan and the UN jointly were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.
After the dignified memorial service, dignitaries and diplomats signed the condolences book.
Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma signs the book of condolences at the memorial service of former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan held at Unisa in Pretoria.