ACCRA (AFP) – The body of Kofi Annan was on Monday (Sept 10) returned to his native Ghana in a solemn ceremony marking the start of official mourning for the former UN secretary-general. Annan’s wife Nane Maria Annan, his children and senior officials from the world body accompanied the casket, which was draped in the blue UN flag, as it arrived from Geneva. The career diplomat and Nobel peace laureate – the first UN leader from sub-Saharan Africa – died on Aug 18 after a short illness at the age of 80. Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, who has praised Annan as “one of the most illustrious people of this generation”, was among the dignitaries at the arrival ceremony. Others included traditional leaders, senior members of the clergy, the hierarchy of the Ghana armed forces and politicians. His coffin was borne by six Ghanaian soldiers and the Last Post played. The UN standard was then removed and replaced with the red, yellow and green flag of Ghana. “Our son” Annan, who lived in Switzerland near the UN European headquarters in Geneva, was now “at home”, those attending were told. The public will get the chance to pay its respects from Tuesday while scores of world leaders past and present as well as royalty are expected at Thursday’s state funeral. A private burial service will then be held in Accra’s military cemetery.