By Maxwell Ofori .
Five world de facto leaders – Donald Trump, Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin – shocked Ghanaians and the African Continent as a whole yesterday, when they failed to turn up at the funeral of the late former United Nations Secretary General, Busumuru James Kofi Atta Annan.
The stance of Donald Trump, President of the most powerful state in the world, United States of America, was not a surprise, as he was the only world leader who failed to comment on Mr Annan’s death. The late Annan, humble but strong on his views reportedly stood up against Donald Trump when the latter wanted to construct a tower that would rise above the United Nations building in the New York City.
Since then, Donald Trump and Kofi Annan have not been the ‘best of friends’, but The Chronicle is unable to confirm if this is one of the reasons why the now American President failed to take to his usual platform – Twitter – to console the bereaved family when the former UN boss passed on to glory. Though the rest of the leaders – May, Macron, Merkel and Putin – commented on his death, why they failed to turn up at the funeral is a mystery.
The development has, however, confirmed an Akan adage that trees in a forest may be seen as one family when one stands afar, but upon approach, you will see that each tree has its own roots. Kofi Annan dined and wined with these leaders as a family, but they turned their back on him when he passed on.
The only high-powered delegations outside the Continent of Africa that The Chronicle spotted at the funeral were – UN Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres, Germany former Head of State Horst Kohler, Finland’s former Head of State Mrs. Tarja Halonem, the former President of Switzerland, Slovenia’s former President Dr. Danilo Turk, and Sweden’s former UN Deputy Secretary General Mr. Jean Eliasson.
African leaders, however, appreciated the great work of Mr Kofi Annan, as their presence was well represented at the funeral. Among them were Mr. Alassane Ouattara, President of Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia President Dr. Hage G. Geingob, Liberia President Dr. George Manneh Weah, Equatorial Guinea President Obiang Nguema, Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio, Ethiopia President H.E. Dr. Mulatu Teshome, Angola Vice President H.E. Joao Manuel Goncalves, and Zimbabwe President Mr. Emmerson Mnangagwa.
With Ghana, all the former heads of state, and the ruling government officials, opposition leaders, and general public participated fully in the funeral, from Monday through to yesterday. Following his graduation from the Macalster College in the US, Mr Annan got his first job in the UN as a Budget Officer for the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He was later elected Under-Secretary-General and head of peacekeeping in 1993, a position in which Mr Annan encountered one of the most challenging milestones of his career – the Rwandan genocide of 1994 – but addressed his failures when he visited the African country in 1998, but, unfortunately, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda was not seen at the funeral.
Despite the controversy, Mr Annan was elected UN General Secretary in 1997, becoming the first black African to be voted into the position.
Throughout his career, Mr Annan demonstrated a commitment to raising the African agenda on an international scale. In 2001, he launched a campaign to tackle Africa’s HIV and AIDS epidemic.
Talking at a UN Security Council meeting, he warned world leaders that the disease was ten times deadlier than armed conflict on the continent. Mr Annan was known for his impressive mediation skills, especially when dealing with the crises in the Middle East, and is credited with having prevented a bombing in Iraq in 1998.
In 2008, he launched a peacekeeping attempt in Kenya after violence broke out in a national election involving President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Ralia Odinga earlier in 2007. His mortal remains were interred at the new Military Cemetery at Burma Camp, Accra, with full military honours.