World dignitaries buried former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his native Ghana on Thursday, with calls to keep alive the legacy of a "stubborn optimist" to create a better and more peaceful world.
His widow, Nane Maria, led hundreds of mourners, including past and present world leaders, traditional rulers and world royalty, and called her husband an "extraordinary" person who had a "joie de vivre".
"My love, you are now at home where you began your long journey, but may your wisdom and compassion continue to guide us, wherever we are," he said at his funeral in the capital, Accra.
His son, Kojo, said that his father had dedicated his life to the ideals of unity, equality, love, peace and respect.
"The biggest tribute we could pay is to follow their example," he added to conclude a three-hour tribute, prayer and song ceremony.
Annan led the UN from 1997 to 2006 and was the first in sub-Saharan Africa to do so. He died on August 18 at the age of 80 at his home in Switzerland after a brief illness.
Thousands of citizens of Ghana this week paid their last respects while their coffin remained in state during the three days of national mourning.
The president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, called him "one of the truly emblematic figures of modern times".
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Many ordinary Ghanaians described him as a father figure and a source of national pride, while his brother, Kobina, told the congregation that he was not just a leader and statesman.
"We lost a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather and an uncle, a man of deep conviction who was so committed to instilling the values of fairness, integrity, kindness and service in each of us as he in favor of peace and human rights around the world, "he said.
"Obstinate optimist as he was, I would like us all to look with hope and continue to strive to create a freer, more just and more peaceful world."
The current UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, praised his close friend as an "exceptional world leader", worthy, courageous and a man of "integrity, dynamism and dedication."
"Kofi Annan was the United Nations and the United Nations was him," he added.
"As we face the winds against our troubled and turbulent times, we will always inspire the legacy of Kofi Annan," he said, adding: "Our world needs it more than ever."
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Annan, who was originally from Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti region of southern Ghana, dedicated four decades of his working life to the UN, and was known to bring a silent charisma to paper.
He was widely credited for raising the profile of the world body in world politics during his two terms in office, facing challenges that include wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, when the world was reeling from the terrorist attacks of September 11 in the United States, together with the UN "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world".
The opera singer and UN Goodwill Ambassador, Barbara Hendricks, who performed at her Nobel Prize ceremony, sang the civil rights anthem "Oh, Freedom."
Annan, a proud African, whom Nelson Mandela called "my leader", left the position as one of the most popular and recognizable heads of the United Nations in history, and was considered a "diplomatic rock star" in international circles .
President Akufo-Addo said that Annan "brought considerable renown to our country for this position and for his conduct and behavior in the global arena."
"The torrent of tributes from around the world is a precise measure of man, a man who gave his life to make peace where there was conflict, to defend the voiceless who were powerless, to promote virtue where there was evil," he added. . .
Annan continued his diplomatic work after leaving office, performing mediation functions in Kenya and Syria and, most recently, leading an advisory commission in Myanmar on the crisis in Rakhine State.
He acted as a negotiator between the government and the opposition in Kenya after the post-election violence at the end of 2007, which led to the formation of the government of the Grand Coalition.
In addition to Guterres, the representatives of the African Union, the West African block ECOWAS and presidents from all over Africa and beyond attended the funeral.
Royalty included Princess Beatrix, the former queen of the Netherlands, and her daughter-in-law, Princess Mabel, who were close friends.