In a country that values its sons and daughters, Ghana came to a standstill when its illustrious son Kofi Atta Annan was laid to rest yesterday at the Military cemetery, Burma Camp.
Kofi Atta Annan and his twin sister Efua Atta Annan were born on 8th April,1938 to Henry Reginald and Victoria Annan in Kumasi. He had his basic and secondary school education in Ghana, a bit of his tertiary education as well and won a Ford Foundation grant which enabled him complete his education at Macalester College, USA where he graduated with a degree in Economics. He went on to Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Switzerland to study International relations and MIT for a Master’s in Management.
Kofi began his career as a budget officer for the World Health Organisation (WHO) an agency of the United Nations (UN) in 1962 and then moved to be the manager of the Ghana Tourist Development Company from 1974-1976. In 1980 he became the head of personnel for the office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva. In 1983 he became the director of administrative management services of the UN Secretariat in New York. In 1987, Mr. Annan was appointed as an Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management and Security Coordinator for the UN system. In 1990, he became Assistant Secretary-General for Program Planning, Budget and Finance, and Control.
He steadily rose to the office of Secretary-General in December,1996; began work in 1997, a position he held till December, 2006.
Strides at UN
Towards the end of the 1990s, increased awareness of the destructive potential of epidemics such as HIV/AIDS pushed public health issues to the top of the global development agenda. In April 2001, Kofi Annan issued a five-point “Call to Action” to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Stating it was a “personal priority”, Mr. Annan proposed the establishment of a Global AIDS and Health Fund, “dedicated to the battle against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases “to stimulate the increased international spending needed to help developing countries confront the HIV/AIDS crisis. In June of that year, the General Assembly of the United Nations committed to the creation of such a fund during a special session on AIDS, and the permanent secretariat of the Global Fund was subsequently established in January 2002. The Ghanaian icon won a Nobel Peace Prize together with the UN in 2001, in recognition of his commitment to containing the spread of HIV in Africa and his declared opposition to international terrorism.
In 2000, Kofi Annan issued a report entitled “We the peoples: the role of the United Nations in the 21st century” The report called for member states to “put people at the centre of everything we do. No calling is more noble, and no responsibility greater, than that of enabling men, women and children, in cities and villages around the world, to make their lives better.
In the final chapter of the report, Mr. Annan called to “free our fellow men and women from the abject and dehumanizing poverty in which more than 1 billion of them are currently confined”
At the Millennium Summit in September 2000, national leaders adopted the Millennium Declaration, which was subsequently implemented by the United Nations Secretariat as the Millennium Development Goals in 2001.
When he had hang his international coat, he came back home and established the Kofi Annan Foundation as a catalyst for lasting peace and inclusive governance by anticipating looming security threats, development and human rights which he saw come to life. In 2008, he led the African Union’s Panel of Eminent African Personalities to brokerage peace in a post-election violence in Kenya. In February- August, 2012, Mr. Annan was the UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, mandated to seek a solution to the conflict there.
He was also Chancellor of the University of Ghana and held a number of positions at Universities around the world.
In 2012, Kofi Annan released his memoir; Interventions: A Life of War and Peace where he explained the events of the Rwandan Genocide and how the UN could have done better.
Keen on agriculture, Mr. Annan was the founding chairman of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which works for a food secure and prosperous Africa by promoting rapid, sustainable agricultural growth based on smallholder farmers.
AGRA’s programmes invest in soil regeneration and health, improved seeds, access to markets, and building capacity and investment throughout the agricultural value-chain.
He was a member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders who work for peace and human rights, and in 2013 was appointed its chair.
The son of Ghana from September 2016 to September 2017, chaired the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, an impartial body which aims to propose concrete measures for improving the welfare of all people in Rakhine state. It’s a joint venture of the government of Myanmar and the Kofi Annan Foundation.
At the time of his death on 18th August,2018, Kofi Annan left behind a wife; Nane Annan, three children and five grandchildren.