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Kofi Annan burial: Ghana bids farewell to former UN chief

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Former UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan was laid to rest at his native home in Ghana on Thursday.

His state funeral
was attended by African leaders and international statesmen who
hailed his record as an advocate for humanity and world peace.

Annan, a Ghanaian national and Noble laureate, died in a
Swiss hospital last month at the age of 80. His body was flown
to Accra on Monday for burial in his homeland, where he is seen
as a national hero.

Around 6,000 mourners packed the auditorium for Thursday’s
official service – the climax of a multi-day funeral ceremony,
which has seen his coffin, draped in the Ghanaian national
colours, displayed for public viewing.

Current UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was among
the dignitaries in attendance, alongside former Ghanaian
presidents, the leaders of Ivory Coast, Liberia, Namibia and
Niger, and the Crown Prince of Norway.

In an address, Guterres hailed Annan, who served as the
seventh UN Secretary-General between 1997 and 2006, as an
exceptional global leader with a deep faith in the role of the
United Nations as a force for good.

“As we face the headwinds of our troubled and turbulent
times, let us always be inspired by the legacy of Kofi Annan,”
Guterres said.

“Our world needs it now more than ever,” he said.

Annan’s widow, Nane Maria referred to her husband as an “extraordinary person who had a joy
of life”.

The ceremony was projected onto big screens outside the
auditorium for the crowds of mourners that could not fit inside
the venue. Many commuters in the capital wore black as a sign of
respect.

On Wednesday, Annan‘s family and Ghanaian dignitaries were
among hundreds to file past his casket amid traditional rites by
local chiefs and clan leaders.

Annan, a Ghanaian of Ashanti lineage, was granted a royal
title by the Ashanti king in 2002. The elders said the rites,
including presenting him with clothing and water, were necessary
to clear the path for a peaceful “travel” for their royal.

Some mourners, like New York-based community mayor Delois
Blakely, had flown long distances to pay their respects.

Blakely, who served as an ambassador of goodwill to Africa
at the United Nations, told Reuters: “I had known and worked
with Kofi for close to 10 years. He spent his life trying hard
to fix our broken society.”

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