By Emmanuel Akli
Hundreds of Ghanaians who thronged the Accra International Conference Centre to catch a glimpse of the body of the former United Nations Secretary General, Busumuru Kofi Annan, left the place disappointed, just as at the death of the great man.
Under Ghanaian tested culture and tradition, bodies are always laid in state for mourners to file past and view the corpse, unless in the case of tragic accidents, where the body has been mutilated beyond recognition.
International media reports indicate that Mr Kofi Annan, the greatest Ghanaian when it comes to achievements, after Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, died peacefully in the arms of his wife and family at the ripe age of 80.
God gave him divine protection, and he was not involved in any accident that resulted in his death, however, how his casket remained closed – preventing Ghanaians from viewing his body and bidding farewell – remains a Gordian knot that must be untied.
With a short, simple, but impressive ceremony at the Kotoka International Airport to welcome the body back to his Motherland, which was beamed live on most of the radio and television stations across the country and world at large, on Monday night, many were Ghanaians who were eager to see the body and pay their last respects to the great man, but their wishes never materialised. They were ushered into the well-decorated Accra International Conference Centre to file past a body that turned out to be in a closed casket.
Some of the disenchanted mourners told The Chronicle that if they had known that the body would not be on display, they wouldn’t have wasted their time and energy to come to the Accra International Conference Centre.
According to them, for Kofi Annan, who rose from humble beginnings at both Cape Coast and Kumasi to become an international icon, had achieved a lot for himself and Mother Ghana – the reason why they wanted to view the body.
Some of them also told this reporter that they never met the former UN boss in person, the first and only black African from sub Sahara Africa to become UN Secretary General, during his life time, and thought it was an opportunity to file past the body, as a sign of respect for his great work for humanity, but they have been ‘prevented’ from doing so.
No official statement has been issued explaining why the casket has been closed. Deputy Information Minister Pius Enam Hadzide, however, explained in an interview with Class News that Mr Annan’s wish was to have a modest funeral.
“There are high-profile funerals that I have attended that I have seen the casket covered, even in this country, and so, it is not a major problem. The important thing is that you see the family sitting in state, and the man, Kofi Annan himself, is a modest person, and so he doesn’t want a lot of flamboyance around the funeral with a lot of frills,” he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the Ghana News Agency also reports that Ghanaians have been paying their last respects to the celebrated diplomat – former United Nations (UN) Chief, Mr. Kofi Annan – as his body lies in state at the Accra International Centre (AICC).
Hundreds of people have been filing past the body, amid heavy security presence.
The government has declared three days of national mourning for the man, who rose through the ranks to become the seventh UN Secretary-General.
Mr. Annan passed on at the ripe age of 80 at a hospital in the Swiss city of Bern, on August 18, 2018, and his mortal remains flown in on Monday evening, for a befitting state funeral.
By 0800 hours, when the Ghana News Agency (GNA) got to the AICC, mourners and scores of journalists had already started gathering.
Madam Rejoice Adjeley Mensah, who led the La Bethel Women Fellowship to pay their respects to Mr Annan, told the GNA that they were there to honour him for his extraordinary service to humanity. She added that he brought honour to Ghana and had earned his place in history.
“We are here to honour him, and it is our prayer that he would find peaceful rest in the bosom of his maker.”
Tributes have been pouring in for Mr. Annan – a global statesman – who tirelessly fought for a fairer and more peaceful world.
In 2001, he co-received the Nobel Peace Prize with the UN.