U Thant Biography
(3rd Secretary General of the U.N. (1961-71))
Birthday: January 22, 1909 (Aquarius)
Born In: Pantanaw, Myanmar (Burma)
U Thant was a Burmese diplomat who served as the Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971. He was the third Secretary-General of the U.N. and the first non-European to hold the position. Born in a family of landowners and rice merchants, he wanted to become a journalist. He lost his father at the age of 14, and his father's death pushed the family into financial turmoil. Being the eldest son, the family's responsibilities fell on Thant's shoulders and to support the family he opted for a two-year teaching certificate at Rangoon University instead of a four-year degree. Thereafter he started working as a school teacher before becoming the head master of the school at a relatively young age. His friend U Nu, who became the Prime Minister of Burma following the country’s independence, brought him into public life and Thant served in different capacities in the government for several years before becoming the Secretary General of the United Nations. He served two terms as the Secretary General of the United Nations and refused to be considered for a third term. During his time at the United Nations, he effectively tackled grave diplomatic crises such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Civil War in Congo.