Universities mourn death of statesman Kofi Annan

The Association of African Universities (AAU) has expressed its profound shock at the death of former United Nations secretary general, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former University of Ghana chancellor Kofi Annan.

Writing on behalf of the AAU Governing Board and African universities, AAU Secretary General Professor Etienne Ehouan Ehile said Annan was Ghana’s “finest international diplomat of all time”. He said, as a directive from the Ghanaian government, the flags of the AAU would fly at half-mast from Monday 20 August “in honour of a man known for his humility, nobility and love for peace”.

Dr Kofi Annan died in the early hours of Saturday, 18 August, in Berne, Switzerland at the age of 80.

“I extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and commiserate with Ghana, Africa and the United Nations on this sad event,” said Ehile.

He said the AAU pledges to uphold Annan’s virtues and celebrate him for living a life worth emulating.

Born in Kumasi, Ghana, on 8 April 1938, Annan studied at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi and completed his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester College in the United States in 1961 before undertaking his graduate studies in economics at the Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales in Geneva. As a 1971-72 Sloan Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Annan received a Master of Science degree in management, according to the AAU statement.

Annan joined the UN in 1962, working for the World Health Organization in Geneva from where he rose through to the highest position of secretary general of the United Nations for two terms, spanning 1997 to 2006.

He served as chancellor of the University of Ghana from 2008 to 2018. In its own statement the university expressed its sadness at Annan’s passing.

“As chancellor, Mr Kofi Annan was instrumental in attracting numerous funding sources to the university especially in the areas of agricultural research and ICT development,” the statement read.

“The former chancellor will be remembered as a man of principle and gentle disposition… The university mourns with the family and shall cling to the memory of his life, his avowed passion for the university, and his legacy,” it added.