Kofi Annan: The Worlds Most Influential Black Man by Matthew Lynch

Koffi Annan for those of you, who do not know, is the Secretary General of the UN (United Nations). A native of Ghana, Annan is the first man of African Descent to hold this distinction. Originally appointed in late 1996, Koffi is serving his second term, which expires on December 13, 2006. As Secretary-General, he has begun to revitalize the UN through a series of comprehensive reforms. His reforms have been aimed at strengthening the UN’s work in the areas of development, international, peace, human rights, and the premise that all men are created equal. He is also working to restore public confidence in the UN by weeding out corruption within the organization.

Mr. Annan worked diligently to attain his current status. In 1990, following the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, Annan was asked by then Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Gal, to coordinate the evacuation of over 900 international staff and citizens of Western Countries. He consequently was also asked to lead the negotiations for the first “Oil for Food” program. As Secretary-General, his first major initiative was his push for a reformation and restructuring of the UN. He also created a viable plan of sustaining peace in Africa, the world’s most disadvantaged continent. He also sought to improve the plight of the world’s women.

In the year 2001, he released the millennium report, “We the People,” that outlined the UN’s place and mission in the 21st century. In this document he also outlined a plan for ending poverty, equality, improving education, reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, etc. He formally addressed the HIV/AIDS epidemic by issuing a five-point address, in which he pledged to personally combat the problem. On December 10, 2001 Annan, along with the UN, received the Nobel Peace Prize for the part that he has played in breathing new life into the organization.

The Bottom Line: Mr. Annan has done a lot to improve the lives of the people of the African Diaspora. He has also shown the world that a man of African descent can lead effectively. When I hear of people talk about the leaders of Black America, we rarely champion him as our president, but he is. He may not totally focus on the plight of black America, but he does represent the African Diaspora as a whole, without prejudice. I hope that we do not wait until he is dead before we recognize Mr. Annan’s great deeds and their effects on the people of African descent.