Annan’s resolve permeates to the end
WHEN former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan travelled to Zimbabwe last month alongside members of The Elders to assess the country’s readiness for its general elections, he showed signs of illhealth.
“He looked sickly and seemed to have lost a bit of weight but nonetheless, he soldiered on and appeared determined to continue with business as usual,” an observer who was in the country at the time said.
Annan, a co-founder of The Elders, an organisation of global leaders launched by former president Nelson Mandela 11 years ago, died yesterday morning in Bern, Switzerland following a short illness.
According to a statement released by his Foundation, Annan, 80, died peacefully with his wife Nane Maria Annan and their three children by his side.
Annan was a “global statesman and a deeply committed internationalist who fought through his entire life for a fair and peaceful world”.
The Foundation said events that would celebrate Annan’s life would be announced later.
During his last days, Annan is believed to have travelled to South Africa and Swaziland.
As tributes for the Nobel Peace Laureate continue to pour in, those who have lauded him for his astute leadership and achievements include UN secretary-general António Guterres, who described Annan as “a guiding force for good”.
Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown described him as “a titan amongst world statesman, a wonderful humanitarian and the most compassionate and caring of individuals”.
Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana in 1938 and became the first black person to hold the high-profile position at the UN.
Yesterday, those from his home country extolled him for the role he played in inspiring young men and women of that country.
“He brought considerable renown to our country by this position (UN secretary-general) and through his conduct and comportment in the global arena. He was an ardent believer in the capacity of the Ghanaians to chart his or her own course onto the path of progress and prosperity,” Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said.
Back in South Africa where Annan delivered the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in 2007, President Cyril Ramaphosa and parties in Parliament described his death as a loss to the world and humanity.
Ramaphosa said the influential leader would be remembered for his role at the UN.