May their souls rest in peace. This is the YNaija2018Review definitive list of globally recognised persons whose deaths shook the world.
Kofi Atta Annan was a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan’s work with the United Nations was recognised when both he and the organisation were named joint recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize despite his passive role in acting on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Annan was the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organisation founded by Nelson Mandela.
American TV celebrity and food writer Anthony Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in France on June 08, 2018, while working on his CNN series on culinary traditions around the world, Parts Unknown. 61-year-old Bourdain had shot in Lagos this year. Bourdain achieved celebrity status after the publication in 2000 of his best-selling book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. The book created a sensation by combining frank details of his life and career with behind-the-scenes observations on the culinary industry.
George Bush Sr and Barbara Bush
Former US President George HW Bush died at the age of 94 at his home in Houston, Texas. Bush Sr was the 41st president of the United States of America and his single term, lasting from 1989 to 1993 was defined by the end of the Cold War and the first Iraq war against Saddam Hussein. About seven months earlier, George Bush Sr had lost his wife and long-time companion, Barbara Pierce Bush, a former first lady and champion of literacy. She was 92 years. Both Bushes were parents of George W Bush Jr, the 43rd US President.
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was peerless. Until her death in August from complications of Pancreatic Cancer, at the age of 76, she was blessed with one of the most distinctive and influential voices in the history of popular music. Her incredible recording career spanned 50 years and earned her twenty Top 10 albums, plus a dozen million-selling singles and 18 Grammy awards. An artiste of immense versatility, Franklin performed for presidents and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
From a 16-year-old baseball-loving teen who found Christ at a tent revival, Billy Graham went on to become the world’s most famous evangelist. An international media darling, preacher to a dozen presidents and the voice of solace in times of national heartbreak, Graham wasn’t just America’s pastor, he was the world’s pastor, taking his gospel to all corners of the world and influencing at least two generations of preachers that followed in his wake. Billy Graham passed away in his home town at the ripe old age of 99.
One of the most influential and inspirational figures of the 20th century, Stephen Hawking, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of the bestselling, A Brief History of Time, powered through a debilitating motor neuron disease, contracted in 1963, to become a brilliant researcher and towering icon. After the loss of his speech, Hawking was able to communicate through a speech-generating device, initially through the use of a hand-held switch, and eventually by using a single cheek muscle. He died on 14 March 2018 at the age of 76.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, heroine of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and ex-wife of the former South African president Nelson Mandela, died aged 81 at a hospital in Johannesburg after a long illness. Regarded as the “mother of the nation” by those who admired her leadership, firebrand rhetoric and courageous activism, Madikizela-Mandela’s death forced a reckoning in the world media of her legacy and returned the power to outline her legacy to the people she fought for in her lifetime.
Hugh Ramapolo Masekela who died on January 23, 2018, aged 78, was one of the world’s finest and most distinctive horn players, performing jazz mixed with South African styles and music from across the African continent and diaspora. Masekela was exiled from his country for 30 years and in that space of time, became a powerful singer songwriter and an important political voice. Through his music and live performances, Masekela became a thorn in the flesh of the apartheid regime that had banished him from his homeland.
John Sidney McCain III was an American politician and military officer who served as a United States Senator from Arizona for over 30 years. McCain previously served two terms in the United States House of Representatives and was the Republican nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 election. He lost the election to Barack Obama but retained much goodwill and influence in the Senate, the Republican party and American politics. He was 82.
A legendary figure in literary circles and pre-eminent don of 20th-century literature, Philip Roth, author of tomes like American Pastoral and The Human Stain died in May at a hospital in Manhattan. He was 85. Roth’s writing explored what it means to be American, Jewish and male and for his efforts, he received among other honors, two National Book Awards, two National Book Critics Circle awards, three PEN/Faulkner Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Man Booker International Prize.