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The world bids farewell to Kofi Annan

PICTURED: Kofi Annan

THOUSANDS OF mourners have have gathered at the Accra International Conference Centre today (Sep 13) to pay their final respects to the late Kofi Annan, who died after a short illness in Switzerland on August 18.

Annan, who was born in Ghana in 1938, served as the seventh UN Secretary-General, from 1997 to 2006, and was the first to rise from within the ranks of the United Nations staff.

Tributes have poured in from family, friends and loved ones for the late Ghanaian diplomat as many dignitaries and world leaders shared their condolences at the ceremony, which began with a welcome and prayer from the Archbishop and Bishop of Kumasi Daniel Yinka Sarfo and the Former Archbishop and Bishop of Accra, Justice Ofei Akro.

Opera singer Barbara Hendricks opened the ceremony with her rendition of Oh Freedom which was followed by tributes from Annan’s children, wife and more.

Nane Lagergren, Kofi Annan’s wife said: “I remember how excited he always was to return home to Ghana. He would always be so happy. He tried his best to make the world a better place in our homes, or villages, our towns and our communities….my Love, may you rest in peace and continue to inspire us and guide us.”

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations said: “Kofi Annan was a guiding force for the good. During the tumultuous era in which he led the United Nations, he combined compassion, commitment and diplomatic skill to bring the Organization closer to the world’s peace, build the foundations of peace and give life to the values of the Charter.”

The Winneba Youth Choir performed the anthem Edikanfo Mo, before President Akufo-Addo spoke on Annan being “charing, elegant and gentle-mannered” while making remarks about the importance of Annan’s legacy in not only Africa but worldwide.

“Charming, cosmopolitan, consensus-builder, elegant, eloquent, gentle-mannered, modest, polyglot, proud Africa, peacemaker, quintessential diplomat – these words are still inadequate to capture the fullness of the personality of Kofi Annan, one of the truly iconic figures of modern times,” said President Nana Akufo-Addo.

Annan’s children Ama Annan Adedeji, Nina Cronstedt and Kojo Annan thanked their father for “years of guidance, wisdom and council.”

“There is no such thing as goodbye, just a date and time when I am sending you ahead to prepare a place in the sun with the certainty that, some day, I will join you when my life is done,” said Ama.

Nina added: “You gave yourself to everyone, big and small, and will live on in us and the thousands of others who felt your compassion. You made a real difference and you will continue to inspire good."

The sermon was delivered by Reverend J.O. Akrofi and concluded with a performance from the Winneba Youth Choir and a performance from singer Alice Twum, who sang It is Well.

This official service marks the climax of the multi-day funeral ceremony, which has seen Annan’s coffin, draped in the Ghanaian national colors, displayed for public viewing.

Reuters reports the ceremony was projected onto big screens outside the auditorium for the crowds of mourners that could not fit inside the venue.

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