Volume 5, Number 2 (2020)
Kofi Annan, the Funambulist
Andy Knight
Kofi Annan, the seventh UN Secretary-General (UNSG), and the only UNSG to have come from the ranks of the Secretariat, has been described in many ways over the years by observers, supporters and critics. Nevertheless, in this article, the Ghanaian is compared to a funambulist. In carefully examining his entire life span, one realises the extent to which this daring, yet humble, man exhibited, metaphorically speaking, the essential qualities of a tightrope walker. From his early days in Cape Coast to his journey across continents to MIT, Annan underwent arduous preparation for what was to become a risky, sometimes painful, sometimes exhilarating, journey to the pinnacle of the UN multilateral system. In the process, he kept his focus and vision, using unique guiding principles, on the end-goal of “putting people first”. This required a balancing act of making adjustments during turbulent times and moments of disequilibrium, and in the end championing the security of people over the pressure to adhere to outmoded principles of state sovereignty.