Lee Adoboe ACCRA (Xinhua) -- The national flags of Ghana are flying
at half mast across the country and at the country’s missions around the globe.
Kofi Annan, former United Nations (UN)
Secretary-General, passed on at a hospital in Bern, Switzerland, after a short
“We knew that in August he tends to
come to Ghana and stay in his house and family members will go and see him. So
we were looking forward to seeing him in August. So to hear this news is really
shattering,” Kojo Amoo Gottfried, Ghana’s former ambassador to China, told
Xinhua on Saturday hours after the news broke.
Amoo-Gottfried, who grew up with Kofi
Annan in Bompata, Kumasi, said: “As a man, Kofi was forthright, truthful and did
what he considered to be right, and never gave up.”
Commentators say not only do people in
war-torn countries recognize the greatness of Annan, who took over from Boutros
Boutros-Ghali in 1997 as the seventh UN secretary-general, but also the youth
and women see a father figure in him.
“To say he is a statesman is an
understatement. He lived fulfilled life always preaching peace and fairness in
the world and he practiced it so much,” Ghana’s deputy information minister Nana
Ama Dokuaa Asiamah-Adjei remarked in an interview with Xinhua.
“His fight for the youth, his fight
for women, we cannot forget,” she said, adding that her wish was for Annan to
have stayed a little longer for Ghana and Africa to tap into his reservoir of
Ordinary Ghanaians like Eric Kwaku, a
taxi driver, said Annan’s achievements were a source of pride for Ghanaians.
“I felt proud when he rose to the
secretary general position as a Ghanaian ... He did the best for the world,” he
told Xinhua in his native Twi language on Sunday.
Wosila Asumbe Abubakar, a level-100
student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), said the late secretary
general’s ascent to that position was great honor to Ghana.
“His death is a big blow to Ghana,”
the young student said. “He fought for peace around the world and was
successful. It gives me a lot of inspiration.”
Joseph Opoku, an estate developer,
said Annan’s achievements have been of great inspiration to his family, and he
tried to let his children model their lives around that of the revered global
“I even visited his family home at
Cape Coast and that of Kumasi, and so it is like, it became a sort of
inspiration for me.”
Inspired by Annan, Opoku said he
decided to send all his children abroad after secondary education for them to
get exposed to the world, make good use of opportunities out there and serve the
In 2004, the UN opened an
international peacekeeping training center in Ghana’s capital in honor of their
Emmanuel Kwesi Aning, Head of the
Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research at the Kofi Annan International
Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC), told Xinhua that: “Annan and Mandela
epitomized the optimism and the hopes of the independence movement.”
“Annan was a young man when we got
independence, probably about 19 years, so he took this optimism and the hope
that the black man can deliver and he lived up to it,” he said.
In the institute, Aning said the
feeling was that of shock, loss and sadness, tinged with the new desire to work
harder to protect the legacy that the former secretary-general stood for.
“I think Annan meant different things
to different people. For the refugee in Dafour whom Annan visited ... he was
almost like a god,” the expert said.
He listed places such as Tusla,
Trebenista and Syria, Rwanda, Kenya and Iraq where the late secretary-general
endeared himself to the people.
Aning revealed that any time elections
were held in Ghana, Annan was quietly behind the scene urging leaders to choose
peace over violence.
The expert credited the late
secretary-general with the introduction of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),
now the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as some of the finest
works on HIV/AIDS, the green revolution and new thinking into ICT.
“Those were the legacies of Mr. Annan
because they were decisions that were centered on the human being; how do we
improve human lives, that has remained, and that is why he still is the face of
the United Nations,” Aning added.