Kofi Annan was born in the Kofandros section of Kumasi, Ghana – in what was then the British colony of the Gold Coast. He is a twin, which has a respected status in Ghanaian culture. His twin sister Efua Atta, who died in 1991, shares the middle name Atta, which in Fante and Akan means 'twin'. Annan and his sister were born into one of the country's aristocratic families; both their grandfathers and their uncle were tribal chiefs.  In the Akan names tradition, some children are named according to the day of the week on which they were born, and/or in relation to how many children precede them. Kofi in Akan is the name that corresponds with Friday.  Pronunciation: Annan has said his surname rhymes with "cannon" in English.  From 1954 to 1957, Annan attended the elite Mfantsipim school, a Methodist boarding school in Cape Coast founded in the 1870s. Annan has said that the school taught him "that suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere".  In 1957, the year Annan graduated from Mfantsipim, Ghana gained independence from Britain. In 1958, Annan began studying economics at the Kumasi College of Science and Technology, now the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology of Ghana.
He received a Ford Foundation grant, enabling him to complete his undergraduate studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States, in 1961. Annan then did a DEA degree in International Relations at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1961–62. After some years of work experience, he studied at the MIT Sloan School of Management (1971–72) in the Sloan Fellows program and earned a Master of Science (M. S. ) degree. Annan is fluent in English, French, Kru, other dialects of Akan, and other African languages.