Daniel Mumbere with Shaban Alfa
The former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Atta Annan has been laid to rest today (September 13) in his native Ghana, after a state funeral that will be attended by people from all walks of life including leaders from all over the world.
Annan, a Ghanaian national and Noble peace prize laureate, died in a Swiss hospital last month at the age of 80. He was surrounded in his last days by his second wife Nane and children Ama, Kojo and Nina.
The family of Kofi Annan have shared emotional and powerful tributes, describing him as a ‘special father’ and an ‘extraordinary human being’.
Opera singer Barbara Hendricks, a UN refugee council goodwill ambassador who sang at Annan’s Nobel ceremony, performed the civil rights anthem “Oh, Freedom” at the funeral of Christian prayers and song.
Among the global leaders who arrived in the Ghana capital, Accra, for the memorial ceremony and subsequent burial at a military cemetery were:
- Ethiopian president Mulatu Teshome
- Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara
- Liberian president George Manneh Weah
- Namibian president Hage Geingob
- Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa
- Angolan vice-president
- Nigerien Prime Minister
- Ex-presidents of Germany and Mauritius
- The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
- African Union chief Moussa Faki Mahamat
- Royalty included Princess Beatrix, the former queen of the Netherlands, and her daughter-in-law Princess Mabel, who were close friends.
- Highlights of the burial which took place at a military cemetery located in Burma Camp had a religious part of it that included a series of prayers from the clergy.
After his casket was lowered into the ground, his wife and president of Ghana cast the first pieces of earth. A full military firing of gunshots followed after which a wreath laying ceremony followed.
- President Akufo-Addo on behalf of the Government of Ghana
- Antonio Guterres on behalf of the United Nations
- Ambassador Kobina Annan on behalf of the family
- Nane Annan, the widow
- Children Ama, Kojo and Nina.
Three days of national mourning
The remains of Kofi Annan were received by the Ghanaian government led by president Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday, and a three-day national mourning started on Tuesday.
The casket of Ghana’s illustrious son, who served as the United Nations top diplomat for a decade, was laid in state at the Accra International Conference Center (AICC), for two days, where members of the public and dignitaries paid their last respects.
Wednesday’s session was dominated by customary rites for Annan, a dignitary of Ashanti lineage who was granted a royal title by the Ashanti king in 2002. The elders said the rites were necessary to clear the path for a peaceful “travel” for their royal.
“Custom demands that we see him off with the necessary clothing and water for his journey to the other world,” one of the chiefs from the Akwamu traditional area told Reuters.