Glowing tributes continue to flow for former UN secretary general Kofi Annan who passed away on Saturday. The Ghanaian native and Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been eulogised as one of Africa’s foremost statesmen. By virtue of having been only the second African secretary general, no one can begrudge him the honour and achievement. Africa has rarely sat on the pinnacle of global power and diplomacy and Annan’s tenure will be subject of analysis by political scientists and historians for a long time.
Critics have already written him off as a pliable puppet of the super powers and the Security Council; a helpless bystander in the face of major civil conflicts, who did little to reform the UN and protect the sovereignty of the underdogs.
During Annan’s tenure, the world watched the most devastating war in recent history— against Iraq — on the pretext of destroying non-existent chemical weapons. Many wars also raged across eastern Europe, Africa and the East. It is also under Annan as undersecretary general for peace-keeping that the Rwanda genocide happened. These wars scarred Annan’s otherwise sterling achievements, which include mediation and development initiatives in several parts of the world over his 60 year-plus diplomatic career. Kenya will remain indebted to him for leading the efforts that averted an imminent civil war in the wake of the 2007 elections debacle. While skeptics will dismiss him, Annan's legacy must be understood within its right context.