Global dignitaries honor former U.N. chief Kofi Annan at memorial

Kofi Annan was remembered Thursday at a memorial service in Accra, Ghana, with numerous tributes to the former United Nations secretary-general.

The casket of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan lies in state during a memorial ceremony Thursday in Accra, Ghana. Annan, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, died last month at the age of 80. Photo by Christian Thompson, EPA-EFE
The casket of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan lies in state during a memorial ceremony Thursday in Accra, Ghana. Annan, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, died last month at the age of 80. Photo by Christian Thompson, EPA-EFE

The diplomat, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and dignitary of royal Ashanti lineage, died Aug. 18 at the age of 80. He was remembered Thursday at a ceremony in the Accra International Conference Center that was attended by more than 4,000 people.

World leaders joined Ghanaian religious and political dignitaries at the celebration of Annan’s life. An operatic solo was followed by a local youth choir and a series of speakers offered tributes.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo eulogized Annan as a “charming, cosmopolitan, consensus-builder, elegant, eloquent, gentle-mannered, modest, polyglot, proud Africa, peacemaker, quintessential diplomat.”

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“These words are still inadequate to capture the fullness of the personality of Kofi Annan, one of the truly iconic figures of modern times,” he said.

Annan was U.N. secretary-general from 1997 to 2006. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace in 2001 for helping revitalize the United Nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke at the service, saying, “Kofi Annan was a guiding force for the good.

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“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,” he said.

Ghana, Annan’s home country, observed a three-day mourning period. On Wednesday, Annan received customary last rites of his Ashanti tribe. He was awarded a royal title in 2012.

ByEd Adamczyk