Posted by Nelson Dafe | 21 January 2014 | 4,241 times
The voice on radio would come up early in the morning: “Welcome to Network Africa on the Africa Service of the BBC.” The accent was a well educated standard English that gave an exotic feel to issues that were very much African, and it resonated the world over, attracting millions of listeners to the BBC’s news platform. It was the voice of the Ghana-born Komla Dumor, a voice that will sadly never be live on air again.
To a heart attack that has broken millions of hearts, Africa and indeed the rest of the world have lost a fine gentleman whose intelligent, fearless and nuanced journalistic style on the behemoth broadcasting network of the BBC was educating as well as it was entertaining. Dumor was 41 when he passed away on Saturday, 18th of January, 2014, in London.
He joined the BBC in 2006 and was part of a list of international radio news anchors who are trying to hold forte for the radio broadcasting format as the BBC and other media outfits continue their sojourn deep into the multimedia world of TV and online journalism. To say that he did a good job would constitute a gross understatement, as most who listened to Network Africa and Focus on Africa programmes would readily testify. He spoke with important personalities, often cajoling responses from them to some very tough questions.
On TV, Dumor was no less a refreshing outlet for news followers. In 2011 he began presenting World News and Africa Business Report on BBC World News television.
Though many of the African issues he presented were unpalatable tales of woes and wars, his mere dapper presence on satellite television was a portrayal of the positive possibilities of a hardworking African life. There (on set) was a man from a humble background who strived to the very top of the broadcast world on the back of a dogged pursuit of his real dreams, which meant giving up his advanced pursuit of being a medical doctor. (He did his pre-medicine at the University of Jos, Nigeria, before branching full-time to journalism.)
Dumor not only had the company of heads of states, huge celebs and warlords, he also brought the story of the common man in Africa to the fore. In an interview with Nigerian music star Wizkid a while ago, Dumor quizzed him about what the modern generation of money, bling-bling, women and fast cars-loving music artistes in present-day Africa are doing to give a voice to the African peoples struggle of wading through the harsh socio-political and economic realities of the present time by asking pointedly: “Where are the Fela Kutis of your generation?” This was vintage Dumor; he was never shy to reflect the thoughts of the everyday African man to those very much in the public eye.
It may have been easy to underestimate his influence, given the fact that he was no famous politician or a recognised billionaire, but as the New African magazine stated while naming him as one of the 100 most influential Africans of 2013, “As a lead presenter for BBC World, Dumor has a considerable influence on how the continent is covered.”
He was the only West African news reader on BBC World News, and flawlessly combined TV and radio journalism while, in the words of BBC’s Global Director Peter Horrocks, “telling the story of Africa as it really is.”
Adieu, Komla Afeke Dumor.
•Photo shows the late Kumla Dumor.
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