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Tribute to Kofi Annan

I count myself truly privileged to have known Kofi Annan. We served together in the United Nations as far back as the sixties. He was in the Secretariat; I in the Permanent Mission of Nigeria. Young diplomats then especially from Ghana and Nigeria, forged personal bonds of genuine friendship; even surpassing those which existed between their two countries.

Those were the days of Kofi Annan, Isham Omayad, Ken Dadzie, Jimmy and Agnes Amissah as well as Philip Asiodu, my humble self, Mohammed Sani, S.H.O. Ibe, and many others presided over by our stalwart principals from Headquarters. Two giant Foreign Ministers─ Alex Quaison-Sackey, the first black African President of the United Nations General Assembly, and Jaja Anucha Nwachukwu, indomitable fighters for the dignity of the black man. We all were by our sheer presence as diplomatic representatives of newly independent black African nations, inspirational motivators of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

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In this regard, it was always a pleasure spending some of our weekends in Apollo Club, Harlem. And during the week days, we were inviting our Afro-American, admirers, in wonderment, to the United Nations Delegates Lounge for a meal or drink. Our guests included, I now recall, Aretha Franklin, who was a special friend to Jide Alo.

Those were our proudest moments. For Nigeria, we were a miracle baby. In retrospect, it would appear we peaked too soon!

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Kofi was our trusted and upright link to the Secretariat. He was forever gentle and cultured in all his ways. He fully deserves the homage and tributes now universally heaped on him.

Our two families forged a link, quietly sponsored and nurtured by Titi Annan (nee Alakija) and my late wife, Gloria.

To Titi and Kofi’s entire family, we send our deep-felt condolences, as well as gratitude to God for the fulfilled life of this great African. May his soul rest in perfect peace.

Ignatius C. Olisemeka (CON), Abuja

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