A state funeral is being held for former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who passed on August 18, at age 80.
His body was flown to Accra on Monday and about 6,000 people, converged at the Accra International Conference Centre to pay their last respects to the Nobel laureate.
Among the dignitaries present are current UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, former Ghanaian presidents, the leaders of Ivory Coast, Liberia, Namibia and Niger, and the Crown Prince of Norway.
Guterres said of Annan
Kofi Annan was both one-of-a-kind and one of us. He was an exceptional global leader.
He was also someone virtually anyone in the world could see themselves in: those on the far reaching of poverty or by, conflict and despair who found in him an ally; the junior UN staffers following in his footsteps; the young person to whom he said until his dying breath ‘always remember, you are never too young to lead – and we are never too old to learn.
Like few in our time, Kofi Annan would bring people together, put them at ease, and unite them towards a common goal for our common humanity.
There is an old joke: The art of diplomacy is to say nothing … especially when you are speaking! Kofi Annan could say everything, sometimes without uttering a word.
It came from the dignity and the moral conviction and the humanity that was so deep in him.
He had that gentle voice, that lilt that made people smile and think of music. But his words were tough and wise.
And sometimes the graver a situation, the lower that voice would get.We would lean in to listen. And the world would lean in. And we were rewarded by his wisdom.”
Mr Annan, who was the seventh UN Secretary-General from January 1997 to December 2006 died in Switzerland hospital on 18 August 2018 after a short illness.
Mourners in traditional black and red attire filled the main hall of the Accra Conference Centre, which sits about 4,000 people. More are watching proceedings on a giant screen in an auditorium just outside the hall.
There have been hymns and a performance by soprano and human rights campaigner Barbara Hendricks.
Annan’s nephew Kojo Amoo-Gottfried read a eulogy, describing how he had led a hunger strike in his secondary school to protest against the quality of food in the dining hall.
There were also a moving tribute by his wife, Swedish lawyer and artist Nane Maria Annan. She described how her husband was always excited to return home, and thanked Ghana for giving the world such an extraordinary man.
She said her husband had an irresistible aura of radiant warmth.
“His legacy would live on through his foundation and through all of us,” she concluded.
The Anglican bishop of Annan’s home city of Kumasi in central Ghana, the Most Reverend Daniel Sarfo, said: “Today history is being made in Ghana. One of our illustrious sons is lying here.
“But we are grateful that God used him over the years to work for humanity, for peace. Today, as he lies here, he has finished his work.”