On April 15th, 2018, the ACCL welcomed Nobel Peace Prize 2011 laureate, Tawakko Karman from Yeman . During her visit, two students from the Innovation Academy Charter School in Tyngsborough chose to present their leadership assignment given to them by the ACCL on Kofi Annan and other world leaders. Few attempts were even made by the students who did the presentation to contact the Kofi Annan Foundation in Geneva to possibly skype and ask Mr. Annan a few questions. For me and as with many of you, his death came as a huge shock. My hope is that, we all must learn a lesson from his courage and leadership and do our best to empower this world. It also reminds us all that we must take every single day as a blessing and live life to the fullest.
ACCL Founder and Executive Director
Son of Africa, Leader of the World
Written by Rachael Otoo Volunteer at ACCL
We live in a world that is at the effect of brutal injustices experienced by marginalized groups. The discomfort incited by heart-wrenching images displayed around the world are undeniable. The exposure to dismal news of universal issues that inject the world with agony that often deter so many individuals from viewing the world from optimistic lenses. The palpable yearning for a safer world and for a leader who demonstrates an incontrovertible belief and devotion that the world needs change. The problematic issues of this current time and of the past exemplifies the necessity of a committed leader with the genuine intention to improve the world. In the midst of torment and sorrow, the need for a strong leader is discernible.
My recollection of reading about Mr. Kofi Annan, and the position he attained from years of diligence, perseverance, and proclivity for education evoked a profound belief that all Africans can thrive and succeed in this often, turbulent world. He proclaimed of the significance of education, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” Additionally, he represented the hope all people of Africa needed to see and fathom that the world can be safer and progressive.
As a young girl growing up, I felt immensely inspired by Mr. Annan. The work he had fulfilled served as an irrevocable inspiration that was impossible to waver. Other people everywhere also felt inspired by him. When most Africans think of reputable leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Josina Muthemba Machel, they also think of Kofi Annan.
The light of dedication, compassion, hardwork, and strength are what we yearn in leaders of Africa. The emblem of hope and the belief that the prosperity of all Africans and other people around the world was found in Mr. Annan. He attained the prestigious role of the UN secretary general, the first and only African thus far to fulfill this distinguishable role. His unflappable demeanor and gentleness in egregious matters remains indicative of the person he was as a leader. His work entailed mediation and long-lasting peace. Therefore, he was competent on peace-making. He epitomized the leader that Africans and so many individuals globally desire, with exemplary work to better the world.
Mr. Annan possessed the unrelenting demeanor to acknowledge and analyze issues that affected individuals. On doing so, he contemplated and formulated strategies required to alleviate the brutal conditions of such debilitating circumstances. Upon his retirement from the U.N, he continued on his advocacy and activism work on global issues. The mission of the Kofi Annan Foundation is to dismantle and alter the debilitating circumstance of issues in society today. The foundation focuses on mediation, education, hunger, women’s rights, drug policy and climate change. Mr. Annan viewed the youth of today as the future leaders of the world, and illustrated the empowerment that they need to succeed in the world. He gathered a group of young activists from around the world, on the project, Extremely Together, on effective methods and strategies to tackle violence in the world.
His death was received with immense shock and sadness. The members of the African Community Center of Lowell, which once received a letter from the Kofi Annan foundation to further its mission, gathered to honor and celebrate the traditional one week observation of his passing. The ceremony, held in Lowell on August 25th, 2018, was attended by a diverse group of individuals. We were daughters and sons of Africa gathering to pay our respects to our fellow son of Africa, Mr. Kofi Annan.
The traditional one week observation of Mr. Annan’s passing commenced with a poignant tribute from the director of the organization, Mr. Gordon Halm. The tribute was a poem written by him, and recited in his native language, Twi.He exalted Kofi Annan for the influence he made in this world. He stated about Mr. Annan’s demeanor, “To me his sense of coolness brings comfort to my heart and spirit and he will be greatly missed.” The world gained a kind and compassionate soul whose vision for a safer world empowered him to commit to its progress.
Mr. Newell Flather who had previously travelled to Ghana in the early 1960s for Peace Corps assignment also attended the ceremony to pay his respects by giving a speech on Mr. Annan.
The next speaker was Rev. Joseph Wilson from Ghana, who said a prayer for Mr. Annan and sang a song for him. There was the traditional African drumming by Ghanaian drummer, Mr. Martin Boadi. Another speaker was Baba Seidu from Ghana who stated that, “His compassion for tolerance and empowerment of all citizens of the world continues to inspire me.” There was another speech from UMASS Lowell Global Studies PhD student and a native of Nigeria, Cecilia Idika kalu. During the speech, she mentioned the significance of standing for just causes. She asserted, “Standing for the truth, taking bold risks for what is right, regardless of staggering opposition. pouring your life out towards a course, and being known for something, especially that which makes the world a little better.”
Michel Kawaya from the Republic of Congo presented a flag from his country as an emblem of honor for Mr. Annan which will be on the wall at the ACCL center. He, along with his translator, gave a speech about the work of Kofi Annan and the monumental influence that it has made on the people of Congo. There was also a representative from Kenya and Iraqi delegates who arrived with flowers. Kofi Annan was more than a leader, he was a man of great integrity. His mission for change, and the perseverance and laborious commitment served as an inspiration for all. To all Africans, he was a son, brother and father of Africa.
During the event, the mood was exuberant when we celebrated his life. We were in gratitude of his life, and his existence in our lifetime. African music from Ghana and Congo were accompanied with the powerful sound of drums echoing the room. The voices of diverse group of individuals united as one, to honor a son of Africa and a reputable leader. We gathered one more time to watch a presentation of Mr. Annan’s life work and the man he was not only to the world, but to his family.
He once said, “To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.” Thank you sir, for your immense courage and diligence fighting for this world. Your prodigious effort and legacy inform all of us that we hold a moral obligation to make the world a better, safer and thriving place. The team at African Community Center of Lowell pray for peace and comfort for the Annan family at this difficult time. Damirifa Due, Mr. Kofi Annan.
Rest In Peace, Kofi Annan “DA YIE”, SON OF AFRICA
Tributes From The ACCL Family
On Behalf of the Congolese Community of Lowell, we would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You to the outstanding service on behalf of the honorable and deceased diplomat Koffi Anan. Koffi Anan was not only a diplomat and a former secretary general of the United Nations, but he was a man who worked to prioritize humans rights for a better future. Koffi Anan impacts in Africa and all around the world has changed many people and nations around and has made us see that together we can build a better future. So as Congolese, we are so grateful for all his works and may his soul rest in peace as we continue to promote his pathway here.
The Congolese Community of Lowell.
I had a chance to meet Kofi Annan on one brief occasion at the time he received an honorary degree from Harvard. The moment was particularly enjoyable as I was able to greet him with my very few words of Twi and to earn a quick smile. In that setting as in all settings, smile or no smile, a minor happy moment or world tragedy, his qualifications as an extraordinary human being were always obvious.
Kofi Annan's life and accomplishments followed and extended a traditional line of individuals of greatness in Africa and America--and certainly in other parts of the world. These are individuals of personal courage in the pursuit of peace and the betterment of all people. As examples, I am thinking of James Kwegyir Aggrey who left the Gold Coast (Ghana) in 1893 to become the first African to travel to America for higher education. He would go on to help lead two commissions to Africa to survey the continent's educational needs. I am thinking of W.E.B Du Bois, the Civil Rights visionary who died in Accra in 1963 at the age of 95, while still working on the Encyclopedia Africana. I am thinking of Kwame Nkrumah, of Nelson Mandela, of Martin Luther King, and the list goes on. Kofi Annan is the most recent of these leaders. With the fresh inspiration he leaves us, we know and trust he will not be the last.
To see more pictures from the event head over to our photo albums page.