KOFI ANNAN: MY INSPIRATION IN LIFE
by Ankrah Robert Nii
International diplomat Kofi Annan of Ghana is the seventh secretary –general of the United Nations (UN), the multinational organization created to, among others maintain world peace. The first United Nations secretary general from sub-Saharan African (1996-2007), Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 2001 and founding member of The Elders, died August 18 at the age of 80. Noted for his cautious style of diplomacy, Annan is sometimes criticized for his soft-spokenness, which some say may be mistaken for his weakness. Growing up us a child, the Late Kofi Atta Annan is one of the many noble intellectuals and diplomat who sought to inspire me in life. Kofi Atta Annan once said, “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.”
Kofi Atta Annan born one of twins into a prominent family in Ghana’s second biggest city in the Ashanti Region, Africa, on April 8, 1938. His father was governor of the Ashanti province under British colonial rule. He attended top schools in Ghana, the US and Switzerland. In 1965, Kofi Annan married Titi Alakija, a Nigerian woman. Several years later they had a daughter Ama and later a son, Kojo. The couple separated in the late 1970s and divorced in 1983. In 1984, Annan married Nane Annan a Swedish lawyer at the UN.
As the Secretary-General, Annan reformed the UN bureaucracy; worked to combat HIV/AIDS, especially in Africa; and launched the UN Global Compact. He was criticized for not expanding the Security Council and faced calls for resignation after an investigation into the Oil for Food Program, but was largely exonerated of personal corruption. After the end of his term as UN Secretary-General, he founded the Kofi Annan Foundation in 2007 to work on international development.
In Ghana it’s who you know particularly if you didn’t grow up in a wealthy family, you have to struggle your way through. However, I feel encouraged by Annan’s legacy despite the incredible hardship and obstacles to success growing up in Ghana. He has been an inspiration to me looking at where he started from and where he landed.