After 10 years as U.N. secretary-general, Kofi Annan has returned home to Ghana to cheering crowds and murmurs that he might run for president. But Annan told leaders in his homeland that he has a different focus in mind: farming.
Speaking at a meeting with President John Kufuor and opposition leaders on Wednesday, Annan said he was "serious about going into agriculture." The former U.N. chief expressed disappointment that Africa was unable to feed itself.
"There used to be starvation in India and China but that is not the case now. I would in the next phase of my life like to work with international actors and African leaders to take agriculture to a new level," Annan said. "It is my commitment that we find a solution to the problems of agriculture on the continent."
Former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings, a longtime supporter of Annan, said he hoped Annan would take some role in the country's politics.
"Now that you're home, I would like you to observe our political scene and offer your advice," Rawlings told Annan at a meeting at his house late Wednesday. "I expect that you will use your expertise and knowledge to straighten the course of peace and stability."
Annan was welcomed home Tuesday night by crowds of hundreds that cheering him and his wife as they stepped off a plane. Troupes of dancers and drummers performed patriotic songs.
Led by President Kufuor, Annan shook hands with a long queue of ministers, chiefs and diplomats that had lined up waiting for his arrival. The chiefs decorated Annan with a white band of cloth, a traditional way of signifying success.
Ghanaians have floated Annan's name as possible presidential candidate for years, and many in the capital said they'd welcome the country's most public international figure entering politics in Ghana.
"I bet you, should he decide to contest, not only me and my whole family will vote for him, but I'm sure all Ghanaians will do so overwhelmingly," said Raymond Amevor, a 57-year-old owner of a transport company.