In May 2008 my family and I proudly attended my graduation with a Doctoral degree in Health Policy and Management from Columbia University in a beautiful ceremony held at the main New York campus. One of the guests of honor was a short black man in his sixties with a goatee that exuded the patrician flair of a privileged upbringing and had an halo of unquestioned authority. He was Kofi Annan, the first black elected as General Secretary of the United Nations for two consecutive five years-term starting in 1997 and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2001.

Africa’s foremost diplomat presided over the transformation of our world from a socio-political stage for the Cold War to its Globalization and the rise of Fundamentalism. He was recruited form the civil corps of the UN bureaucracy, after many years of service. He was a tireless diplomat that sought to find compromise between warring enemies in order to spare the civilian population from the consequences of famine, sickness and destitution. He had the guts to meet some of the most despicable tyrants and engage them in a much needed dialogue; he was severely criticized for sharing a cigar with Saddam Hussein in his quest to avoid war.

He renovated the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations by giving them much more resources and training of the personnel in the vagaries of non-conventional warfare. Sadly his biggest failures were the genocides of Rwanda and Bosnia, which were really the inevitable outcome of naively putting “soft Europeans” to confront the hardened warriors. If the defenseless refugees of Srebrenica would have been defended from the rogue Serbs by a platoon of American Marines or an elite battalion of the Indian Army, the story might have been different; at the very least they would have stood their ground and fought fiercely for the safe heaven.

He was born on April 8, 1938, in an aristocratic family of the city of Kumasi in what was then called the Gold Coast, which would later become the country of Ghana; he had a degree in Economics from Ghana and later also studied at Macalester College in Geneva and at the Sloan School of Management in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His first United Nations appointment was in the World Health Organization of Geneva in 1962 and he worked the rest of his life in different organizations of the institution. In 1990 UN secretary general Boutros Ghali appointed him first as his deputy and then as head of the peacekeeping operations. With the blessing of the suspicious American delegation to the UN, he was finally appointed as it secretary general on January 1, 1997.

After leaving the UN, he continued working for world peace from his position of head of the “Kofi Annan Foundation” based in Geneva, Switzerland. He had just returned from a trip to Zimbabwe last week when he fell ill and passed away on August 18th, 2018 in a Bern hospital.

He had the courage and determination to seek peace, even with the flimsiest of chances.

He had the stamina and patience to deal with the most abject members of Humankind.

He worked until his death to promote world peace, a necessary legacy for a sound future for our children.

Thank you very much Kofi for your priceless public service in the UN.

May God Almighty receive you in his Grace as a dedicated son of Africa.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

5 thoughts on “Our valiant emissary to the Dark Side

  1. Good morning Dr. Sahib.

    Thanks for sharing your memories about a function on graduation with a Doctoral degree in Health Policy and Management. What a pleasant surprise when the guest of honour is a prominent personage like Kofi Annan who requires no introduction at all. His contributions, in so many different fields, is legion and are codified in the history. What a life of experiences and each of these are for the raising the standard of his people. Such people are the gems of our world created by our Creator for special contribution for the humanity. The legacy he has left is irreplaceable and is a shining example for every one of us to emulate; even a bit of it!
    Thanks for sharing wonderful thoughts on Kofi Annon.
    With warm regards

    1. Good morning and thanks for your nice commentary, my dear spiritual friend across the oceans. Yes, this man does not need any introduction and I was just paying my humble homage to him. He is one of the few irreplaceable figures of Mankind..
      I have to confess a little secret. When I was writing that the massacre in Srebrenica would not have perhaps happened if US Marines or Indian soldiers would have been posted at the gate, I initially thought about a Sikh battalion. They were especially trained by the British Raj to become outstanding fighters and professional officers of the Indian army. However the sad episode with the assassination of Premier Indira Gandhi soiled their image. Therefore I did not want to offend you.
      A big hug. Arrivederci!

      1. Good morning Dr. Sahib.

        Thanks for your valuable commentary. When law enforcement agencies are trained not only with art of controlling mob but also have human touch then they will not let anything happen.

        The Sikh massacre of 1984 happened because the marauding mob created such situation and the police force was not adequate to control that mob. Only military could have controlled the situation; which the Government did not deploy. Otherwise this program must not have happened. Yesterday, I happened to meet one of the persons whose father had died in those riots. He trauma still persists. How and why some people can lower their selves below the animals!

        My regards


      2. Good morning and thanks for your accurate commentary, my dear spiritual friend across the oceans. Yes, it is a sad chapter in Indian history and I understand why the trauma persists for all the survivors. Sadly the police forces in most under-developed ( and a few developed) countries are ill-equipped and insufficiently trained to control a runaway violent mob.
        A big hug. Arrivederci!

      3. Good morning Dr. Sahib.

        Thanks for your invaluable commentary. Whenever such things happen anywhere, our heart always misses a beat.


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