Soft-spoken and reserved to a fault, Kofi Annan’s personality hides an interesting detail of his student days at Mfantsipim School in the Central Region.
There was this one day at Mfantsipim when he actually led a student demonstration over food, his senior at the school, Dr. Andrew Akrutu revealed Thursday, at an event to interact with the former UN Secretary General dubbed “An Afternoon with Kofi Annan”.
The hunger strike to get better food from the school cafeteria was a success.
Dr. Andrew Akrutu revealed that this rebellious streak in an otherwise quiet-spoken Kofi Annan was tamed by his teachers who encouraged him to shun radical solutions to problems.
He was told that undramatic tools of civilised engagement can yield better results.
From 1954 to 1957, Annan attended the Mfantsipim School which taught him “that suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere”.
Some 40 years later, Kofi Annan would become the first staff member of the United Nations to become the Secretary General in 1996. Dr. Akrutu praised Kofi Annan for his “highly developed instincts for negotiation” and diplomacy.
He also praised Kofi Annan for revealing the steel in him when in 2004, he told the world super power, the US, its war on Iraq was illegal and unjustified.
Annan joined the UN in 1962, working for the World Health Organization’s Geneva office.
He went on to work in several capacities at the UN Headquarters including serving as the Under-Secretary General for peacekeeping between March 1992 and December 1996.
He was appointed as the Secretary General on 13 December 1996 by the Security Council.
Akrutu also revealed a lesser known fact that Kofi, whose name means “born on a Friday,” also had a twin sister, who died in 1991 from a still yet unknown disease. In Ghanaian culture, twins are considered special and are adored.
Akrutu said he found out from his wife, quipping that “women know more than they tell”.
Kofi Annan counsels young leaders
Meanwhile, Kofi Annan has urged the younger generation not to be hurry to make money.
The former world leader gave the advice while expressing hope in the new generation of youthful leaders to turn Africa’s economic fortunes around.
He said, the younger leaders in complaining about the sins of the older generation, should be careful they do not “become as corrupt as the old ones we complained about”.
Kofi Annan has said one of his regrets as UN Secretary General, is failing to work with African leaders to change the negative narrative about Africa.
Kofi Annan also talked about a Ghanaian tendency to “leave everything to God” when they suffer ill-treatment.
He said “it is good to believe in God but you need to help God a little bit to help you”.