SAN FRANCISCO, September 14, (THEWILL) – World leaders paid their respects to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at his funeral on Thursday in his home country of Ghana.
The burial, held at the Accra International Conference Centre, marks the end of three days of mourning for the African nation.
The 80-year-old passed away on 18 August after a short illness.
Those in attendance included the current UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres and Princess Beatrix, the former queen of the Netherlands.
Other dignitaries in attendance include former Ghanaian presidents, the leaders of Ivory Coast, Liberia, Namibia and Niger and the Crown Prince of Norway.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Abdulsalami Abubakar, ex-military head of state, and Senate President Bukola Saraki were among the Nigerian leaders who paid final respect to Annan.
Guterres, in his remarks at the funeral of his predecessor, played glowing tributes to Annan.
“Kofi Annan was both one-of-a-kind and one of us. He was an exceptional global leader.
“He was also someone virtually anyone in the world could see themselves in: those on the far reaching of poverty or by, conflict and despair who found in him an ally; the junior UN staffers following in his footsteps; the young person to whom he said until his dying breath ‘always remember, you are never too young to lead – and we are never too old to learn.
“Like few in our time, Kofi Annan would bring people together, put them at ease, and unite them towards a common goal for our common humanity.
“There is an old joke: The art of diplomacy is to say nothing, especially when you are speaking! Kofi Annan could say everything, sometimes without uttering a word.
“It came from the dignity and the moral conviction and the humanity that was so deep in him.
“He had that gentle voice, that lilt that made people smile and think of music. But his words were tough and wise.
“And sometimes the graver a situation, the lower that voice would get.We would lean in to listen. And the world would lean in. And we were rewarded by his wisdom.
“He pioneered new ideas and initiatives, including the Millennium Development Goals and the landmark reforms in his report, In Larger Freedom .
“He opened the doors of the UN, bringing the Organisation close to the world’s people and engaging new partners in protecting the environment, defending human rights and combating HIV and AIDS and other killer diseases.
“To him, indifference was the world’s worst poison. Even after finishing his term as Secretary-General, he never stopped battling on the front-lines of diplomacy.
“He helped to case post-election tensions in Kenya, gave his all to find a political solution to the brutal war in Syria and set out a path for ensuring justice and rights for the Rohingya people of Myanmar.
“Kofi straddled many worlds. North and South, East and West. But he found his surest anchor in his African roots and identity.
“The great Nelson Mandela, accustomed to being called Madiba, had his own nickname for Kofi, and called him ‘my leader’. This was no jest. Kofi was our leader, too,” Guterres stressed.
Born in Kamasi, Ghana, on April 8, 1938, Annan took the baton as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from Egyptian diplomat Boutrous Boutrous-Ghali in December 1996. He served for two consecutive five-year terms, from January 1997 to December 2006.
His body was flown to Accra on Monday for burial in his homeland, where he is seen as a national hero.
The ceremony was projected onto big screens outside the auditorium for the crowds of mourners that could not find space inside the hall.