The University of Ghana, amidst a soulful dirge and appellations, on Friday evening paid emotional tribute to the memory of late Kofi Annan, who served as Chancellor of the University for a decade; 2008 to 2018.
At a Remembrance Service held in his honour, past and present officials of the University recounted the tremendous contributions Mr Kofi Annan made to the University during his Chancellorship as well as tributes showing his humble, affable and humane personality.
The Ghana Dance Ensemble performed the dirges followed by appellations written by Prof. Emeritus J.H Kwabena Nketia, which was delivered during Late Kofi Annan’s investiture as Chancellor in 2008; read in Twi and English.
The appellations praised him as man of dignity whose exploits at the world stage made him the ‘iron that could replace the broken iron plate”.
“I chant your appellations, alas! Busumuru, Man of Dignity. The little talking bird that speaks for nations, the whetstone on which warriors sharpen their tools to perform deeds of valour,” the appellation said.
Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, the Vice Chancellor of the University, said the late Kofi Annan gave the University the wings to soar among its peers, having contributed to the UG being ranked as one of the best institutions of higher learning in Africa.
Mr Annan, he noted, was very instrumental in attracting the much needed funding for the UG, especially in the area of faculty research, agricultural research, library and ICT development.
In addition are the UN-Carnegie Next Generation of Academics in Africa Project, which was geared towards faculty development and enhancement of research and post-graduate training, the Building Capacity to meet Climate Change Challenge (B4C) Project as well as support from the Open Society Foundation.
“Indeed the unparalleled personality of Mr Annan helped uplift the University of Ghana to worldwide recognition, granted the University much credibility and greatly assisted it to advance its strategic agenda,” said Prof. Owusu.
“We shall cling to the memory of his life, his avowed passion for the University, and his legacy. May the torch he lit continue to burn ever more brightly as a memorial to his hard work and concern for humanity.”
Prof. Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe, former Vice Chancellor (VC) of the UG, (2006-2010), recounted how, instead of the imposing presence they expected to meet when arrangements were being made to select Mr Kofi Annan as Chancellor, they met an “extremely humble personality, dressed in simple slacks and a patterned short-sleeved shirt, with absolutely no airs about him.”
He recalled Mr. Annan’s love for music and dancing, evidenced at a UG event where he threw off his jacket and tie and took to the dance floor with his wife Nane, and danced to Sam Cooke’s ‘Twisting the Night Away’.
“Those of us who worked with him in his early years as Chancellor feel most honoured to have seen the best of a great diplomat at the University,” he stated.
Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah, another former VC, paid tribute to what he called ‘the lighter side’ of Mr Annan.
He noted that people tended to forget that those who reached such august and elevated positions as Mr Annan were also human, with a lighter side to their lives and achievements.
He said Mr Annan’s fame, while in school at Mfantsipim, came from his ability to choose the most appropriate nicknames for every teacher as well as the ladies who came to do their sixth form course at the School, aside his love for fried ripe plantain and beans.
“I understand his elevated position did not blunt his capabilities in all these areas of human endeavour mentioned above,” he said.