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.

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