18th August 2018, In the early hours of the morning, the world was saddened by the announcement of the sudden demise of Kofi Atta Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.
On the 24th August 2018, a farewell memorial service was organised at the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria by the United Nations Office in honour of the global giant and champion of human rights, one of Africa’s greatest Ambassadors the continent has ever produced. South Africa warmly responded to the call of the UN to organise the commemorative event where friends, former colleagues and parents came from all over the country to pay their last tribute to him. The APRM CEO, Prof Eddy Maloka was represented by Mr Valery Yao Yao.
Having received an honorary Doctorate from UNISA; Prof Mandla Makhanya, Vice-chancellor of UNISA, commended Kofi Annan for his outstanding work.
Having joined the UN at the age of 24, Kofi Anan dedicated his life to the service of the UN. In a short video of his farewell address in December 2006, as he was stepping out of the UN; he stated that “you can take the man out of the UN, but you can’t take the UN out of the man,’’ which the UN resident Coordinator, Ms Nardos Bekele-Thomas summarised by saying that, in many ways, Kofi Anan was the UN.
The achievements of the late Kofi Anan featured prominently in various statements by Dr Nkosazana, Ambassador Mxolisis Nkosi, Prof Makhanya, Mr George Ayisi-Boateng, the High Commissioner of Ghana in South Africa and Mrs Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, as they paid their tribute to the Icon. These include, among others:
– Introduction and adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which have paved the way to Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs);
– Establishment of the UN Global Compact, driven by Kofi Anan’s sound understanding that the goals of the UN and those of the private sector can be jointly supportive;
– Provision of political will to the UN in the fight against HIV/AIDS;
– Commitment and fight for gender equality and poverty.
However, despite these achievements, Kofi Anan suffered the competing interest of the UN Security Council which he could not always transcend. Examples include the Genocide in Rwanda and the war in Iraq.
The CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Mr Sello Hatang emphasised that the late Kofi Anan had special relationships with South Africa, and more specifically with the Nelson Mandela Foundation where he was serving as the Chairperson of the Elders. In this capacity as Chairperson, he participated in the centenary event of Nelson Mandela together with Former US President Barack Obama, few weeks before his demise.
In her concluding remarks, the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Nardos Bekele-Thomas, expressed her gratitude to the participants and the whole country. She further stated that the late Kofi Anan was the son of the continent who rose to assume the highest position in global diplomacy; “As he joins the galaxy of our heroes, may his soul rest in peace”.