Flags will fly at half-mast for three days at UN headquarters in New York and its mission around the world after the unexpected passing of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The 7th Secretary General and second African to lead the global organisation passed away after a short illness in Bern, Switzerland on Saturday. He was 80-years-old.
It was the culmination of a career with the UN that saw him rise through the ranks since his appointment as a lowly budget officer at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1962.
The current Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed spoke with SABC News about this loss.
“This is a tragic and very sad day for us all, Kofi was a very special person to many people, a mentor, such an inspiration, and he lived his life with the core values of the UN. So today people are reeling. For us it’s really quite surreal. He was wise and walking that track in Johannesburg and Zimbabwe just a week ago and we’re all very shocked,” says Mohammed.
He served two terms as UN Chief receiving the Nobel Peace Prize along with the UN for their work for a better-organized and more peaceful world.
The UN’s Mohammed remembers him as one of the pre-eminent leaders to have led the organisation.
“There are few leaders who walk with dignity and give hope and those of us who are in the trenches and we try to do what we can, and he was just one of them and he always going to be missed. He was a touchstone for many, he stood for the values calling for peace, really the end to so much suffering and conflict and the humanitarian crisis. He remained at the helm of affairs never quieting his voice,” says Mohammed.
Post his UN career, he played mediation roles in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and Syria to mention just a few, he delivered the Nelson Mandela lecture in 2007 and would pass on while chairing The Elders forum, started by the former South African President.
“He went on to do so much more after the UN and I think probably more, the leader of The Elders forum, his foundation, as you said the many voices he was asked to lend to try to build bridges, to bring people onto the side of delivering on peace, delivering on getting over the challenges that we have, this is something we are sorely missing, the Elders forum and himself have tried to fill that gap, today is a very difficult time and he never stopped giving,” says Mohammed.
A statement from the Annan Family and the Kofi Annan Foundation says he died after a short illness and was with his wife and three children at the end of his life. Funeral arrangements and memorial services have yet to be announced.
A member of the group of The Elders and former Ireland President Mary Robinson pays tribute to Annan…
View media below for more on Annan’s life: