Eager mourners at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) who went to pay their final respects to former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan were left disappointed.
This is because they were unable to see the remains of the world icon lying in his casket as they filed past. The coffin was draped in a Ghana flag sitting in the middle of the forecourt of the AICC.
One of the disappointed persons, Prof Ransford Gyampo, a political science lecturer at the University of Ghana said the draped coffin culturally and traditionally defeats the purpose of a file past.
“One thing that I am not too happy about is that in our culture when you are filing past a dead body, people to have the opportunity to view the body. But in this instance it is covered…this is so foreign,” he told Joy News’ Maxwell Agbagba.
Although he admitted that not everyone is comfortable viewing a dead body, he advised that is not an excuse to close the casket.
He argues that there are so many people who have heard of the late Kofi Annan and have seen and admired him from far away so “this is the only time they want to see the person.”
Prof. Gyampo said the funeral organisers “should open the casket and let people view the body.”
But Deputy Information Minister, Pius Hadzide explained that the funeral planning committee decided not to open the casket but rather drape it in the national colours to show the world the identity of the late Secretary-General.
“We must seize this moment to show the world that this is a Ghanaian affair as the funeral has gone beyond the family and it is a state funeral.
“We draped it to symbolise to the world that we claim this funeral, we own it and we are proud of our distinguished former Secretary-General, Kofi Annan,” he said.
On Thursday, a solemn burial service and final interment will be held. The service will be attended by UN officials, Heads of State, diplomatic delegations and the general public.
There will also be a private burial at midday on Thursday at the Military Cemetery with full military honours and a 17-gun salute.
The former UN Secretary-General died at a hospital in Switzerland, on August 18, after a short illness.
Mr Annan who lived for 80 years served as the seventh UN Secretary-General from January 1997 to December 2006.