Kofi Annan, Nobel Prize winner and the seventh United Nations Secretary-General, died on August 18, 2018 at a hospital in Bern, Switzerland after a short illness, aged 80. He is survived by his wife Nane and children Ama, Kojo and Nina.
* Kofi Annan was born on April 8, 1938 in Kumasi, Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast) to Henry Reginald Annan and Victoria Annan. Both his grandfathers were tribal chiefs. After retirement, his father was elected as provincial governor of Ghana’s Asante province.
* Annan’s first name means “born on a Friday”. He had a twin sister, who passed away in 1991. They both had the same middle name, Atta, which means “twin” in their local language Akan.
* He attended Mfantsipim School, a boarding school in central Ghana, where he learnt “that suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere”. He graduated in economics from Macalaster College in Minnesota, studied international relations at Graduate Institute Geneva, Switzerland and got a master’s degree in management as a Sloan Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
* Kofi Annan joined the UN in 1962, starting as a budget officer in the World Health Organisation and served two terms as UN Secretary-General from January 1, 1997 to December 31, 2006, becoming the only black African to hold the position. In an interview to BBC’s Hard Talk for his 80th birthday, he remarked that the UN isn’t perfect, “but if it didn’t exist you would have to create it.” He also described himself as a “stubborn optimist”, saying “I was born an optimist and will remain an optimist.”
* Annan was awarded the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, along with the UN, “for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world”. The citation stated that Annan, the second UN Secretary General to be awarded, had brought “new life to the organisation”. He was also recognised for his commitment towards human rights, containing the spread of the HIV virus in Africa and fight against international terrorism.
* Annan was fluent in English, French, Akan and other African languages.
Kofi Annan quotes
“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society, in every family.”
“More countries have understood that women’s equality is a prerequisite for development.”
“A genocide begins with the killing of one man — not for what he has done, but because of who he is.”
“To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.”