Africa: Kofi Annan - the Calm Negotiator

Kofi Annan: A former Secretary General of the United Nations was a towering global leader and diplomat. A calm, quite, reflected, humanitarian and honest negotiator, he was also the only black African to lead the UN.

Kofi Annan was a towering global leader, an eloquent mediator, an excellent diplomat, and an unwavering champion for peace, justice and rule of law. He has been a figure of preternatural calm who would never take things personally.

Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana in 1938 and he joined the United Nations (UN) in 1962 after studying management at the Massachusetts institute of technology and worked his way up to the UN hierarchy. He eventually rose to become the head of the UN Peacekeeping before assuming the top organizational job. Kofi Annan was the first black person to head the UN. And as a career diplomat and renowned leader, he served as a chief of the UN between 1997-2006, being elected twice.

Annan has been described as Africa's foremost son. His achievements as the first black to lead the UN are source of pride to many on the continent. He was the 7th UN Secretary General: the only black African to hold that prestigious position. He started his job in the UN as a personnel at the departments of human resources management, health, budget and finance, and later as head of the peacekeeping mission.

Annan spent most of his adult life in the UN. He led the UN for two successive five year tenure, beginning in 1997. Kofi Annan was a master mediator who was keen on flying the flag for peace around the world and was jointly awarded a Nobel Peace Prize with the UN in 2001 for his efforts.

Annan was devoid of anger, a quite reflected in his habit of speaking when matters of consequence were at stake. An honest broker between conflicting interests generally cited as his greatest strength.

Annan championed Human Rights as the African agenda greatly during his tenure. Under his leadership, the UN's place in the modern world was reaffirmed and one of his landmark proposals led to the creation of the Millennium Development Goals which aimed to eradicate extreme poverty, combat malaria and HIV/Aids, reduce child mortality, and improve maternal health and more. Kofi Annan considered the establishment of these goals as one of his greatest achievement as a Secretary General because they compelled global leaders to actively fight poverty and reduce global inequality.

Many have lauded his significant contributions to the humanitarian and development issues in Africa not just through the UN but through his work at the MO Ibrahim Foundation and the Africa Progress panel. Kofi Annan launched a global campaign at the African leader's summit in 2001 calling for fresh funding to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic that was ravaging major countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Annan also brokered a crucial truth in the bloody aftermath of the Kenyan election violence in 2007. He and his team got both leaders to agree to power sharing coalition that ended the bloodshed. One twitter user wrote on hearing his death few days ago "were it not for you, our country would have been brought to ashes. We celebrate and loved you Annan, you have a place not only in Kenyans hearts but also the entire world. Rest in peace Annan."

Annan spent his life for peace and human dignity. He was an outstanding human being. Kofi Annan died in a Swiss city of Bern after a short illness. Many leaders of the world paid tribute to Kofi Annan and here are some.

Antonio Guterres: UN Secretary General

"Kofi Annan was a Guiding Force for good. I join the world in mourning his loss. In three turbulent and trying times, his legacy as a global champion for peace will remain a true inspiration for us all."

Nana Akufu Addo: President of Ghana

"The government and people Ghana, First Lady Rebecca and I are deeply saddened by the news of the death, in Bern, Switzerland, of one of our greatest champion Mr. Kofi Annan. The flags at the country's government offices and diplomatic missions would fly at half-staff for a week."

Theresa May: British Prime Minister

"Sad to hear of the death of Kofi Annan. A great leader and reformer of the UN. He made a huge contribution to making the world he has left a better place than the one he was born into. My thoughts and condolences are with his family."

Vladmir Putin: President of Russia

"I sincerely admired his wisdom and courage, his ability to make informed decision even in the most complex, critical situations. His memory will live forever in the hearts of Russians."

Muhammudu Buhari: Nigerian President

"Annan's humility, nobility and love for humanity set him apart for global greatness, achieving recognition and commendation for the reform of the United Nation's bureaucracy and multiple interventions to bring peace to the world"

Emanuel Macron: French President

"We will never forget his calm and resolute approach to matters, nor the strength of his commitments."

Barak Obama: Former President of the United States

"Kofi Annan was a diplomat and humanitarian who embodied the mission of the United Nation like few others. His integrity, persistence, optimism and sense of our common humanity always informed his outreach to the community of nations."

Jean Claude junckr: European Community Chief

"Today the world mourns a great leader and humanitarian but celebrates alife full of courage, empathy and remarkable public service. He devoted his life to making the world a more peaceful and united place. He fought to end suffering and injustices across the world and helped to build bridges where they had been destroyed."

Margot Wallstorm: Swedish Foreign Minister

"Tragic to learn about Kofi Annan's death. He personified what is best about the UN and also had to deal with some of its hardest challenges. A great listener and someone who made everyone want to listen."

Jacinda Ardern: Newziland Prime Minister

"The world has lost a great humanitarian, leader and self proclaimed, stubborn optimist. Rest in peace, Kofi Annan."

Narendra Modi: Indian Prime Minister

"We express our prefound sorrow at the passing away of Nobel Laureate and former UNSG Mr. Kofi Annan. The world has lost not only a great African diplomat and humanitarian but also a conscious keeper of international peace and security."

Jeremi Corbyn: British Opposition Leader

"Kofi Annan dedicated his life to building a more just and peaceful world. His efforts in supporting of conflict resolution and human rights will be remembered. He looked for a peacefull path when others looked for thoughts are with his family and loved ones."


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