Face Reality, the Man Is Gone!
Mr. Kofi Annan, the globally distinguished Ghanaian diplomat and the 7th United Nations’ Secretary-General, who died on August 18, lived to be 80 years old, at least 20 years more than the average life-expectancy rate for most of his countrymen and women. He is also likely to be remembered as one of the greatest UN Secretaries-General of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Busumuru Kofi Annan’s greatest achievement, and one that was gloriously crowned with the Nobel Peace Prize by the Swedish Academy in 2001, was for having brought about a direly needed Paradigm-Shift in how the post-World War II global peacemaking and peacekeeping organization operated prior to his historic assumption of stewardship of the UN, the first Black-African to ever do so. Mr. Annan’s accession to the Secretary-Generalship of the UN may equally significantly have impacted the complex set of circumstances that brought about the seismic accession to the Presidency of the United States by Mr. Barack Hussein Obama, the first African-American to assume reins of governance of the world’s most powerful mega-nation some 12 years later.
Now, I am writing this column specifically in response to those “professional” Ghanaian mourners of the man who have bitterly complained that filing past the closed casket containing the mortal remains of Mr. Annan, who died in Switzerland’s capital of Bern, was disappointingly “un-Ghanaian,” meaning that in Ghana the funerary norm is the open casket. That may very well be the case; but one also has to reckon with the crystal-clear fact that the man being presently celebrated with three days of national mourning and a state burial at the newly designated Military Cemetery in Ghana’s capital of Accra, stood in a class all by himself. Even so, so modest and humble was this Akwamu-descended native that Mr. Annan is widely speculated to have left behind a set of instructions categorically requesting that his funeral and burial ceremonies not be orgiastically extravagant and insufferably scandalous in the manner that Ghanaians are globally and stereotypically known for. In sum, the largely speculative narrative goes, Mr. Annan wanted his corporeal exit from the Earth, or rather into the sacred womb of the same, to be executed as quietly and peacefully as the moment of his birth in Kumasi, the Asante Regional Capital, on April 8, 1938.
Incidentally, Dear Reader, yours truly was also born on April 8 but some 25 years later in Asante-Mampong; so I strongly identify with this immortalized Ghanaian citizen. Indeed, had Mr. Annan wanted his passing and memory to be flamboyantly marked with the resplendent grandiosity of a mausoleum, he would not have had any problem, whatsoever, either having his Swiss-based Kofi Annan Foundation, his family or even the Government of Ghana do precisely that. At any rate, I don’t know what is so fundamentally Ghanaian or un-Ghanaian about the closed-casket celebration of the life and achievements of arguably the most globally renowned and distinguished Ghanaian citizen since the country’s first postcolonial President, to wit, Mr. Kwame Nkrumah, who has a specially constructed mausoleum in his memory and honor just across the street from the old Superior Court Buildings in Accra, if memory serves me accurately.
The rather tacky and decidedly pointless debate over whether, indeed, the casket originally draped with the flag of the United Nations, but presently draped with the colors of the Ghana flag, with a life-size portrait of the man at the head of it, largely for the benefit of mourners who may not have either known the man or may harbor any doubts about the remains contained therein, is clearly pointless because the deceased man’s family takes absolutely no pleasure in deliberately deceiving themselves and the rest of us well-wishers, both Ghanaian and non-Ghanaian celebrants of his life alike. Then again, what is so uniquely Ghanaian about the nauseatingly routine refrigeration of our dead for months and, in some cases, even years before funeral and burial these days, but the gross and flagrant, if also pathologically necrophiliac, abuse of modern technology?
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
September 12, 2018