Tribute to Kofi Annan, first chair of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, by Salim Ahmed Salim
This August, we lost one of Africa’s great champions, Kofi Annan.
Throughout his extraordinary life, Kofi Annan was committed to something higher than himself. He was dedicated to bettering humanity through the kindness, fairness, optimism and wisdom he brought us, and through the justice, equality and peace he advocated for around the world.
For me personally, Kofi’s passing on constitutes a great loss. It has been a great pleasure and honour to work with him on various issues especially those concerning Africa, where his commitment and dedication for a better continent is a matter of record. Throughout his distinguished role in the service of the international community he demonstrated humility and frankness in his decision-making. He was resolute in his convictions, unwavering in pursuing what he believed was right. We have lost a great internationalist, a formidable fighter for peace, security, stability and human dignity.
As my predecessor in his role as Chair of the Ibrahim Prize Committee for Achievement in African Leadership, Kofi Annan was the embodiment of the values we should always seek when awarding the Ibrahim Prize. He sought, shared and firmly upheld the standards for excellence in leadership in Africa, and set a high bar for the Prize Committee’s work.
Under his chairmanship, Nelson Mandela was made an Honorary Laureate in 2007, and the Prize was awarded twice more – honouring Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique in 2007 followed by Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana in 2008 for their work to develop their countries, lift people out of poverty and pave the way for sustainable and equitable prosperity.
We are eternally grateful for the steering and guidance that he has provided us. We have benefited enormously from his insight, his experience and his unique contributions to assessing governance and leadership in Africa.
He once said that through his work with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, “we will help energise African leadership and encourage a new generation of young leaders to step up to this most urgent of challenges.”
Indeed, he was an inspirational leader. I am confident that future generations of leaders will continue to be inspired by his words, as I have been.
Salim Ahmed Salim
Chair, Prize Committee