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Former UN Secretary-General Returns Home to Ghana

  • Efam Dovi

Former United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, Tuesday retuned to his home country, Ghana, to a rousing welcome. It is the first time Mr. Annan has returned to Ghana, since leaving the U.N. top post in December. Efam Dovi was at the Kotoka International Airport, in Accra, and files this report for VOA.

The drumming and dancing started at this usually restricted area of the tarmac hours before the Alitalia plane he was traveling on touched down, late Tuesday.

Many people responded a call by the government for Ghanaians to turn out to welcome Mr. Annan and his wife, Nane. Passengers waiting at the nearby departure lounge and airport staff watched through windows to catch a glimpse of Mr. Annan. One man voiced the belief of many people; that Mr. Annan had done Africa proud.

"I decided to come because he has done a great job to Ghana and Africa, black Africa, and we are very grateful to him for solving peace in most of the sub-regions, in West Africa, as well as the world in general," he said.

Mr. Annan is the first black African and the second African, after Boutros Boutros-Gali of Egypt, to have held the U.N. top post. He is the first U.N. staff member to have risen through the ranks to head the world body. He served two five-year terms as the seventh secretary-general.

Ghanaian President John Kufuor and Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama were among the government officials who were at the airport to welcome him.

Mr. Annan held a brief, closed-door meeting with the president, after which he told journalists, he was happy to be home.

"My wife and I are extremely happy to be here," he said. "When we look out the window and saw that you are here in your numbers to welcome us home, we were really really moved. It's been a long journey and, today, I complete the circle and am really looking forward to sitting down with my compatriots - men and women of Ghana - to discussing some of the issues."

The 68-year-old, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations in 2001, thanked Ghanaians for their support and encouragement throughout his 10-year term.

Thursday, Mr. Annan will deliver a lecture, as part of activities marking the celebration of Ghana's 50th independence anniversary.

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