In 2008, Unisa conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Literature and Philosophy on Kofi Atta Annan.

Born into an aristocratic Ghanaian family, Annan was educated at a Methodist boarding school with the credo “Suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere”. He was an academic achiever and earned degrees in economics, business administration and international relations at prestigious institutions in the US and Switzerland.

His United Nations (UN) career began in earnest in the late 1980s, and in 1993, he was appointed the head of UN peacekeeping operations. It was a difficult start: UN troops failed to contain the Rwandan genocide, and Annan was accused of holding back effective military intervention. Later, however, he was integral to many humanitarian and peacekeeping successes in Africa, including during his tenure as UN Secretary-General from 1997 to 2006.

Annan held a great many international honours, including a Nobel Peace Prize, and he was the Chair of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working for peace and human rights.