3-Day mourning begins as Kofi Annan’s body arrives

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu, Donald Ato Dapatem & Chris Nunoo

The three-day national mourning for Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary-General, begins today after the arrival of his remains at the Jubilee Lounge of the Kotoka International Airport  on Monday.

The mood at the airport was sombre when the plane carrying the casket of the global icon touched down the tarmac after a long flight from Switzerland.

As the body of the former United Nations (UN) Secretary General and Nobel Laureate arrived in his native Ghana, many including President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who led the welcome party, appeared devastated by his passing.

Some people wept as the casket was carried out of the plane by military pallbearers.

The widow, Mrs Nane Maria Annan, in a black outfit, the children Ama, Kojo and Nina; the grandchildren and some UN officials accompanied the body.


Annan, 80, who died in a Swiss hospital on August 18 after a short illness, will be accorded a state burial.

President receives remains

President Akufo-Addo was at hand to receive the casket, which was draped in the colours of the UN.

Also at the airport were the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo; the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, the Chief of Staff, Mrs Frema Osei Opare, and some ministers of state and traditional leaders, as well as service commanders.

The aircraft which carried the body touched down at the Kotoka International Airport at 5.25p.m. and the President, accompanied by other senior government officials, walked the tarmac at the Jubilee Lounge to meet the widow and children.

Guard of Honour

Before the remains were brought to the centre of the venue, the Ghana Armed Forces mounted a guard of honour, after which the body was handed over to the state.

In line with tradition, libation was performed, and Christian prayers said to thank God for the safe arrival of the body.

A military band played emotional tunes at the background, while the atentemmen (flute) blowers, who had come from the Ashanti Region, also performed, as military pallbearers moved to the aircraft to convey the casket to the main arena.

Mrs Annan and the children were visibly emotional but tried to smile as they received handshakes from President Akufo-Addo and state officials.

The late Kofi Annan carried the traditional title, “Busumuru,” which was conferred on him by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

Change of colours

Once the body was handed over to the state, the UN colours that draped the casket were changed into the Ghana national colours.

After the nearly one-hour ceremony, pallbearers carried the casket into a waiting hearse and the cortege of military artillery vehicles proceeded to the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) where the body will lie in state from today to Wednesday for public viewing to be followed by burial service on Thursday.

Per the programme released by the Kofi Annan Funeral Planning Committee, the general public, heads of departments, associations and others will file past the body today while former ministers of state, members of the diplomatic corps, Members of Parliament (MPs), ministers of state, members of the Council of State, members of the Mfantsipim Old Boys Association, chiefs and queenmothers, the Akwamuhene and his delegation and the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu’s delegation will have their turn on Wednesday, September 12.

Thursday, September 13 will be the turn of VVIPs, including the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Chairman of the Council of State, the Chief of Staff, Chief Justice, Speaker of Parliament, former Presidents of Ghana, the Vice-President, visiting heads of state and the President of Ghana. After the burial service at the AICC, the remains of one of Ghana’s greatest sons will be interred at the new Military Cemetery at La with full military honours.

Background

On August 18, the world woke up to the news of the passing of Annan aged 80 in Bern, Switzerland.

The late Annan was reported to have fallen ill shortly after returning to Switzerland from South Africa and detained at a Geneva hospital and later sent to Bern, the Swiss capital, for further treatment but passed on Saturday, August 18, in the presence of his wife, Nane Maria, and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina.