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UNFPA Zambia staff celebrate the life of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin

16 June 2017
Celebrating the life of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin

Dr. Babatunde was one of a kind. We have lost a truly brilliant and remarkable man. Dr. Babatunde assumed office at a difficult time in UNFPA. However, through his leadership, he shaped the organization and that is why we are where we are. Today, people know what UNFPA is mandate is all about. He ensured that there was accountability and that things were working efficiently in the organization so that we could carry our heads high. He made us proud and was truly bold in what he believed in. Even as we mourn our dear champion and leader, we need to celebrate his bold vision and unwavering commitment and make sure we continue his legacy and never let the fire die. He stood for those left behind. The onus is on all of us in our various capacities to make sure his legacy lives on,” Mary Otieno, Country Representative

UNFPA Zambia staff observe a moment of silence in honour of UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin

 “It is a privilege and honour to have known and learned from Prof “Oga” these past years. The depth of his dedication to duty, astute approach to delivering measurable development results and yet love for humanity defined him in more ways than one. Indeed a legend in all ramifications of the word. He trusted that if we all gave our best through our respective roles, we would truly address development challenges and vulnerabilities faced by women and young people in a sustainable and inclusive manner, even amidst resource constraints. His distinguished personal style and “swagger” also defined him. His knack of being able to effectively engage with a wide spectrum of people - young and old; rich and poor/marginalized; endeared him in no small way to many.  One keenly watched his engagements at work, positions held in recent past and with peers, in addition to keen mentorship of young men and women, as well as devotion to family and friends; and couldn’t help but wonder – how does he do it all. Could only be God!. “Oga”, your legacies live on, we will continue to pursue excellence with diligence in all that we do and above all with a heart of humility. You will be missed immensely. God rest your soul in perfect peace,” Chinwe Ogbonna, Deputy Representative

“When I joined UNFPA in September 2010, I was really confused with what UNFPA was all about. The first impression I got was that there were three dominant components of UNFPA mandate that were pulling against each other. A few months later in 2011, Dr. Babatunde, joined the organization.  Following the mid-term review of the then strategic plan, under his guidance, a new business plan was developed and personally, when I read that document, I said ‘yes…this is the answer I was looking for on what UNFPA is all about.’ Through his leadership, there was strategic direction and a seamless flow across the three components of the mandate. He brought change and focus to UNFPA. Today we can talk of family planning, child marriage, the demographic dividend and, investing in adolescent girls because of the spotlight he shone on these critical issues. He made it his duty to ensure that no one is left behind. Even before the agenda 2030 leaving no one behind gained momentum, he was already living that. I will always be inspired by his passion. He made me realize how fulfilling the UNFPA mandate is and it is our responsibility to continue with this great work,” Sibeso Mululuma, Assistant Representative

“Dr. Babatunde was so on point with information. Even if it’s a GBV topic, he would answer questions with great ease and one would be in awe with the information, data and points he would put across. For me, of the people who are considered brilliant, Dr. Babatunde is among the top, especially in communicating information,” Womba Mayondi, Gender Analyst

Dr. Babatunde is an inspiration not only to UNFPA but also to us Africans to be bold. The UNFPA mandate is not easy to advocate for in our context because there is so much opposition to issues such as family planning which we think is so obvious. If we did not have an inspiring leader, our mandate could easily have been ignored. His strategic leadership ensured that the SDGs reflect the UNFPA mandate…actually the mandate of women and girls as he always put it. If you read the SDGs today, you will see that they integrate sexual and reproductive health and rights. In our own small way, through the partners we work with, we should make sure that we carry on with the mandate that the gallant son of the soil passionately pursued,” Stephen Mupeta, Reproductive Health Specialist