Those who know the politics of the United Nations (UN) well will acknowledge that while the conception of the ideas that led to its creation in 1945 was a largely western affair, Africa joined in and has since played a very central role in shaping it to become the global body that it is today. You may remember Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali and his ‘get your hand dirty’ approach or Dr. Kofi Annan’s activist leadership style that took the UN to new heights where it had not been before. Dr. Kofi Annan, for one, is a big proponent of the ongoing UN reform agenda.
But I digress. Today, one great son of Africa who was instrumental in having United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) headquartered in Kenya has passed on. Dr. Joseph Odero-Jowi then serving as Kenya’s permanent representative to the UN successfully lobbied – together with colleagues from Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the leadership of late Cabinet Minister Dr. Njoroge Mungai – other African states and the G77 to have UNEP headquartered in Africa specifically Nairobi Kenya.
While the passing of Dr. Odero-Jowi is a big blow to Kenya and Africa, his significant contribution will live long after his demise. He leaves behind a legacy that will inspire many more young Africans to aspire to get involved in global governance. May he rest in eternal peace and may his strong resolve to make a difference be born a new in all of us.
Dr. Jowi, since most African cultures provide for an after life, allow me to request you on behalf of the rest of Africa to please pass our regards to our heroine Nobel Laureate late Prof. Wangari Maathai. Forward!