The Kandifo Institute has hosted the maiden edition of the Kofi Annan Scholars Webinar with Dr. Kodjo Esseim Mensah-Abrampa, the Director General of the National Development Planning Commission as guest speaker. This comes on the back of the annual Kofi Annan lectures. The webinar themed ‘Kofi Annan and Africa’ saw the staff and associates of Kandifo Institute in attendance.
Videos on the life of Kofi Annan was played to portray the life he lived. Kofi Annan was a man seen as a guiding force for good. His desire was to see a more peaceful world and was driven by this desire to see a prosperous Africa. He is a legend, a man that Africans look up to, a true hero. Kofi Annan’s work and words have inspired thousands of people across the globe both the old and young.
Guest speaker, Dr. Kodjo Esseim Mensah-Abrampa while talking about the life of Kofi Annan made mention of three key things: Sequential life, Educational Journey and his transparency as a man of just and truth.
In his lecture, he complimented Kofi Annan on his knowledge with opportunities by forming relationships with academia personalities. The guest speaker took us through the educational life of one of Africa’s greatest hero, Kofi Annan. Annan’s path overseas was set in motion when he attended a meeting of African student leaders in Sierra Leone as the vice-president of the Ghana Students’ Union.
After his secondary school education at Mfantsipim Boys School in Ghana, Annan went on to pursue higher education and attended four different colleges; Kumasi College of Science and Technology which is now the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva (Switzerland) and the MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He earned a number of degrees which included a Master of Science and studied International relations.
In his lecture, Dr. Kodjo Esseim Mensah-Abrampa described Kofi Annan as a man who looked at things in a wholistic view. He was an integrated man who looked at the dimension of the problems and offered a solution which led to the establishment of some millennial goals which was halving extreme poverty.
He did not simply urge member countries to solve their problems but rather he presented a framework that would allow states to embed poverty reduction strategies into their plans for national development and policy. He also used his political prowess to bargain and incentivize richer nations to increase spending on development aid to 0.7% of their national incomes, a portion that can be described as low even today.
He was a champion of world development and poverty reduction particularly in his native continent of Africa. He became the chairman of the Africa Progress Panel after his second final term as the United Nations Secretary-General.
The panel under his tenure advocated for the equitable and sustainable development of African Nations through international collaboration and engagement in global politics. He then helped to establish the annual Africa Progress report that, among many things, analyzed and reported on the progress that African Nations were making toward the Sustainable Development Goals. Remembering Kofi Annan’s fight against global poverty is very important since it serves as a model of the amount of commitment, patience and humanity that are needed to make a difference.
He was a nationalist who never forgot his origin and cherished his long friendship with Former President John Agyekum Kufuor, Nelson Mandela and the king of the Ashanti Kingdom, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
He set up a peace building focus with Nelson Mandela and turned the negative into positive. As the head of the United Nations’ peacekeeping operation that failed to prevent genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, he erroneously received personal blame and scrutiny throughout the rough times in his career but yet still, he carried himself in a gracious manner and pushed forward to fix his short comings by molding the institutional legitimacy of the United Nations.
His work on reducing the global poverty and human rights abuses earned him unprecedented praise from world leaders and representatives of poor and rich nations as well as a Nobel Prize in 2001. The speaker stated that even though some people in government defamed him as well as his family, he took a positive turn as a man of integrity and a stateman.
The Kandifo Kofi Annan Scholars webinar was a success as most young people derived life lessons from the well lived life of Kofi Annan. After the speaker was done with his presentation, the opportunity was given to participants to ask questions. This made the session very interactive.
Two key questions that came up were:
- With respect to leveraging opportunities, how do young people explore such opportunities irrespective of the given circumstance of life?
- How do we make way for Kofi Annan’s impact in our educational set up in terms of curriculum?
The guest speaker indicated how the question in a way took him back to the olden days and how things were done which seem quite different from what we have presently. He recounted his experience growing up and how people like Kofi Annan grabbed opportunities that came their way.
According to Dr. Mensah-Abrampa, there were clubs for the youth which at the time, were of interest to many young people. But in recent times, such clubs are not functional and the few ones that may have survived are not of interest to many youths. He admonished all participants to take advantage of opportunities that may come their way stating emphatically that they must “identify opportunities and leverage them.”
Dr. Mensah-Abrampa touched on Ghana’s abundant rich resources stating explicitly, that growth-weight and inclusivity were key. He also made mention of how the country was going to make use of her iron and steel; raw materials in the railway industry for instance which is in the pipeline through the works of Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation (GIISDEC).
After the question-and-answer session, the Executive Director of Kandifo Institute, Palgrave Boakye-Danquah opened the floor to share some of their takeaway lessons which was also a success as participants expressed their appreciation for the webinar and for learning the life of Kofi Annan.
Kofi Annan was seen as a beacon of diplomacy, peace and unity locally and in the international community and believed that together we can make our world a better and comfortable place to be, Kandifo Institute also believes that, Together Ghana Can also make the country better with the young people. Kofi Annan may be gone but will forever be in our hearts.