How the world bid farewell to Kofi Annan, the first black African to become UN secretary-general

Annan’s widow, Swedish lawyer and artist Nane Maria Annan gave a moving tribute and described him as an extraordinary man.

Mourners dressed in traditional black and red attire filled the main hall of the Accra Conference Centre, which sits about 4,000 people and others watched the funeral proceedings on a giant screen in an auditorium just outside the hall.

The former queen of the Netherlands, Princess Beatrix, and her daughter-in-law Princess Mabel, who were close friends of Annan, were among the mourners.

As the funeral proceeding went on, millions of mourners worldwide followed the proceeding online and kept sending their condolences.

Speaking at the funeral, current UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said Annan was an exceptional leader who saw the UN as a force for good.

"As we face the headwinds of our troubled and turbulent times, let us always be inspired by the legacy of Kofi Annan," Mr Guterres said.

"Our world needs it now more than ever," he added.

Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo described Annan as "one of the truly iconic figures of modern times".

"The outpouring of tributes from the world over is an accurate measure of the man, a man who gave his life to making peace where there was conflict, to defending the voiceless who were powerless, to promoting virtue where there was evil," he said.

The Anglican bishop of Annan's home city of Kumasi in central Ghana, the Most Reverend Daniel Sarfo, said Annan had fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

"Today history is being made in Ghana. One of our illustrious sons is lying here.

"But we are grateful that God used him over the years to work for humanity, for peace. Today, as he lies here, he has finished his work."

Annan's nephew Kojo Amoo-Gottfried read a eulogy, describing how he had led a hunger strike in his secondary school to protest against the quality of food in the dining hall.

Annan’s widow, Swedish lawyer and artist Nane Maria Annan gave a moving tribute and described how her husband was always excited to return home.

She thanked Ghana for giving the world such an extraordinary man.

"His legacy would live on through his foundation and through all of us," she concluded.

Annan was the UN secretary-general from 1997 to 2006, the first black African to hold the world's top diplomatic post.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for helping to revitalise the international body, during a period that coincided with the Iraq War and the HIV/Aids pandemic.

He died on 18 August in Switzerland at the age of 80.


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