Kojo Annan is the son of Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general who passed away on August 18. Kofi Annan will be buried on Thursday, September 13 after days of visitations in Accra, Ghana. Kojo is a businessman whose business dealings raised questions and have at times landed him in the public eye. His involvement in the UN’s “oil for food” scandal landed his father in trouble as well.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kojo Is the Son of Kofi and His First Wife, Titi Alakija
Kofi Annan had two marriages. His first wife, Titi Alakija, was a Nigerian woman. She and Kofi got divorced when Kojo was just six years old, and Kojo and his sister, Ama, spent most of their time with their father, Kofi.
The siblings spent long holidays with their mother. A friend of the family said that Kofi and Titi always had a troubled marriage, often staying in different rooms while on vacation together. But they worked hard to keep their marriage intact for as long as they could.
Kofi later remarried; he is survived by his second wife Nane Lagergren, a UN lawyer.
Kojo was born in Geneva, in Switzerland.
2. Kojo Was Educated at Expensive Public Schools, Where He Excelled at Rugby
Kojo was educated in England and in Switzerland. He attended Rendcomb College, Gloucestershire, and was a star on the rugby team.
As a young boy, Kojo and his sister lived most of their time with their father, Kofi. Kofi worked long hours but always made a point of leaving work in time to have dinner with his children — before finishing his work in the evening.
He later “disappointed” his father when news of his controversial business dealings — and his alleged involvement in the UN Oil for Food scandal — became public.
3. Kofi Said He Was ‘Very Disappointed’ in His Son Amid Rumors of Involvement in a UN Scandal
In 1995, the United Nations created a program known as “Oil for Food,” in which Iraq would be allowed to sell its oil in exchange for food, medicine, and other basic necessities. The idea was to give Iraqis access to basic necessities without allowing the government to use oil proceeds to beef up the country’s military, which was closely watched by the west after the first Gulf war.
Unfortunately, the oil for food program was dogged by allegations of corruption and accusations that UN officials and others were siphoning off money from the program for their own use. Kojo was criticized for accepting a large salary from Cotecna, a company that was hired by the UN to check out goods going into Iraq through the program. Kojo continued to accept money from Cotecna even though his father was UN Secretary General.
Kofi Annan said he was “surprised and disappointed” that his son had continued to take money from Cotecna. The Volcker Report — an extensive report probing the possible corruption in the oil for food program — contended that Kofi had repeatedly exploited his father’s name to get jobs and to turn a profit.
4. Kojo and Kofi Were Reportedly Close, With Kofi ‘Glowing’ With Pride As He Talked About His Son
Kofi reportedly prided himself on being an involved father. He liked to tell a story about how Kofi referred to him as a “mother” — once, when Kofi said he wouldn’t be able to go to Kojo’s school play, Kojo reportedly replied, “but all the other mothers will be there!”
A close friend of the Annan family, Toni Goodale, told New York magazine that the father and son were close. “I’ve never seen any problems or tension between Kofi and Kojo,” said Goodale. “Kofi would glow when he talked about Kojo and Ama. Kojo made his father laugh.”
Kofi Said He Couldn’t Understand His Son’s Motivations to Get Rich
Kofi told New York Magazine that he couldn’t understand why his son was so motivated to turn a profit. Kofi said, “I’ve always lived quite a straight life. I’m not one of those who is in a hurry to get rich. It’s not my way of life or desire.”
Kojo was implicated in the UN’s oil for food scandal, where he was accused of exploiting his father’s name — and his name — to get hired by companies working in Iraq on the margins of the oil for food scandal.