Kofi Annan to receive state burial in Ghana on Sept 13

A relative sits in front of a poster depicting the late Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, at Annan's family home in Bompata town in Kumasi, Ghana August 19, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 August 2018
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Kofi Annan to receive state burial in Ghana on Sept 13

  • Current UN chief Antonio Guterres described his predecessor as “a guiding force for good
  • Annan’s death was met with an outpouring of tributes from world leaders

ACCRA: Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan will receive a state funeral and burial in Ghana on September 13, the Ghanaian president said on Friday, calling it “a major event for our country.”
The announcement was made by President Nana Akufo-Addo following a meeting with Annan’s family in the capital Accra.
Annan, a Ghanaian national and Nobel peace laureate, died on August 8 at the age of 80 after a short illness.
“Kofi Annan was one of the most illustrious people of this generation. He was like an elderly brother,” Akufo-Addo said.
“It’s going to be a major event for our country... I expect many leaders to be present,” he said, adding that Annan will be buried in Accra’s new military cemetery.
Born in Kumasi, the capital city of Ghana’s Ashanti region, Annan devoted four decades of his working life to the UN and was the first chief from sub-Saharan Africa.
A career diplomat, he projected quiet charisma and was widely credited for raising the world body’s profile in global politics during his two terms as head of the UN from 1997 to 2006.
Following Annan’s death in Switzerland, where he lived not far from the UN European headquarters in Geneva, Akufo-Addo announced a week of mourning for “one of our greatest compatriots.”
Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, as the world was reeling from the September 11 attacks in the United States, jointly with the UN “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.”
Another Nobel laureate, retired South African archbishop Desmond Tutu, described Annan as “an outstanding human being who represented our continent and the world with enormous graciousness, integrity and distinction.”

The first chief to rise from within the organization’s ranks, Annan left the post as one of the most popular UN leaders ever, and was considered a “diplomatic rock star” in international diplomatic circles.
After ending his second term as chief, he kept up his diplomatic work, taking high-profile mediation roles in Kenya and in Syria, and more recently leading an advisory commission in Myanmar on the crisis in Rakhine state.
He enjoyed some success in ending post-election turmoil in Kenya in 2007, and the two main players in that crisis, former president Mwai Kibaki and his opposition rival Raila Odinga celebrated his efforts this week.
Annan’s death was met with an outpouring of tributes from world leaders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed his “wisdom and courage,” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel celebrated the “exceptional statesman in the service of the global community.”
Former US president Barack Obama said Annan “embodied the mission of the United Nations like few others.”
Current UN chief Antonio Guterres described his predecessor as “a guiding force for good.” “In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations,” he said.
The UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein described him as a “friend to thousands and a leader of millions.”
“Kofi was humanity’s best example, the epitome of human decency and grace. In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, our loss, the world’s loss becomes even more painful.”


Families bury victims as Tanzania ferry disaster toll passes 200

Updated 23 September 2018
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Families bury victims as Tanzania ferry disaster toll passes 200

  • Divers were also set to continue their grim search in the waters around the boat
  • With a surface area of 70,000 square kilometers, Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland and is shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya

UKARA, Tanzania: Grieving families were on Sunday preparing to bury victims of Tanzania’s devastating ferry disaster, with more than 200 confirmed dead after the crowded boat capsized in Lake Victoria.
Hopes were fading of finding any more survivors three days after the ferry sank on Thursday, even after rescuers pulled out an engineer who had managed to find refuge in an air pocket in the upturned vessel.
“We are going to start burying bodies not yet identified by relatives,” said John Mongella, governor of Mwanza region, where the MV Nyerere ferry had been coming in to dock on the island of Ukara.
“The (burial) ceremony will be overseen by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, in the presence of clergy members of different denominations,” Mongella said Saturday on TBC 1 public television.
Divers were also set to continue their grim search in the waters around the boat, where late Saturday they were watched by anxious crowds gathered just meters (yards) away on Ukara’s shore.
Mongella said 218 people had been confirmed dead, while 41 escaped the tragedy with their lives — a total figure far above the official capacity of the boat, which was in theory only able to carry 101 passengers.
One survivor was an engineer who shut himself into a “special room” with enough air for him to stay alive until he was found, said local lawmaker Joseph Mkundi.
Transport Minister Isack Kamwelwe said on Saturday that 172 of the victim’s bodies had been identified by relatives.
State television cited witnesses reporting that more than 200 people had boarded the ferry at Bugolora, a town on the larger Ukerewe Island. It was market day, which usually sees the vessel packed with people and goods.
Witnesses told AFP the ferry sank when passengers rushed to one side to disembark as it approached the dock. Others blamed the captain, saying he had made a brusque maneuver.
Dozens of wooden coffins lined the shore on Saturday, waiting to be seen by families as police and volunteers sought to keep hundreds of curious locals at bay.
Aisha William came to collect the body of her husband. “He left on Tuesday around noon, but he never came home. I do not know how I am going to raise my two children,” she said.
Ahmed Caleb, a 27-year-old trader, railed at a tragedy “which could have been prevented. I’ve lost my boss, friends, people I went to school with,” he sighed.
The aging vessel, whose hull and propellers were all that remained visible above water, was also carrying cargo, including sacks of maize, bananas and cement, when it capsized.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Friday ordered the arrest of the ferry’s management and declared four days of national mourning.
In a speech broadcast on TBC 1, Magufuli said “it appears clear that the ferry was overloaded,” adding that the government would cover the funeral expenses of the victims.
With a surface area of 70,000 square kilometers, oval-shaped Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland and is shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
It is not uncommon for ferries to capsize in the lake, and the number of fatalities is often high due to a shortage of life jackets and the fact that many people in the region cannot swim.