The decision by Mr. Peter Horrocks, director of global news at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), to establish a fund/foundation in memory of the late Mr. Komla Afeke Dumor (1972-2014), for the promotion of young media talents on the African continent, could not have come at a more opportune moment (See "BBC to Establish Foundation in Komla's Memory" Ghanaweb.com 1/22/14). This is the surest way of immortalizing this African neo-pioneer at the global news desk of the world's premier broadcaster. Indeed, it was this remarkable achievement of Mr. Dumor's that differentiated the latter from his African colleagues at the BBC.
I wish that rather than knee-jerkily calling for a state burial for Mr. Dumor - not a really big deal, as most of us have come to know it - the executive membership of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) should think about something more meaningful and constructive, such as renaming the headquarters of the GJA after the late radio and television journalist. Or, to have an even more constructive reach, the GJA could also follow the laudable example of the BBC by establishing an annual award in honor of their fallen colleague.
Evidently, as publicly attested by Mr. Horrocks, the deceased newscaster acquitted himself creditably in his personal and professional relationships with his colleagues and bosses at the BBC, with his graceful exhibition of the wistfully fast-fading and globally-recognized Ghanaian courtesy and hospitality. I am still in a daze over the death of Mr. Dumor, although my one-time, albeit quite extensive email exchanges with him (it was actually a heated quarrel), while he served as program presenter at Joy-Fm radio, shortly before he joined the BBC, was not a particularly pleasant or memorable one.
Even so, one thing I learned from those intemperate exchanges was that Mr. Dumor was very passionate about his job. This incident also did not, in any way, prevent me from deeply appreciating his deft, versatility and dignified presentations as a BBC announcer and news anchor. I even strongly encouraged my "Community College" students to watch him on weekends here in the New York Metropolitan Area.
I put "Community College" in quotation marks, because where I work had been rather pathetically invoked by Mr. Dumor as a source of obloquy. But did it really matter then or even now? Of course, I also returned fire with commensurate measure. But what is significant to observe here is that the aforesaid exchanges ended with a modicum of understanding on either part. It also convinced me of the need to communicate my impressions on Ghanaian politics and culture more through my writings than call-ins and write-ins.
That he died doing what he loved best, is perhaps the greatest tribute that could be paid our fallen brother. It is also both interesting and significant for me to observe that prior to Mr. Dumor's arrival on the global-news desk at the BBC, I used to envisage Mr. George Alagiah (actually Sir George), the Sri Lankan-born and partially Ghanaian-schooled formidable presence at the BBC, as the closest personality worth identifying with for any Ghanaian viewer-listener of the BBC to be proud of. And I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that had he been blessed with professional longevity at the BBC, Mr. Dumor may well have been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
I will have other remarks and comments to make on the death of Mr. Dumor, including the context of my largely well-meaning, albeit rather unfortunate and unflattering, exchanges with the man. In the meantime, let me take this opportunity to express my heartfelt sympathies to the Dumor and the Gbeho families, and their allied families, of course, as well as all those who meaningfully connected with Mr. Dumor at various levels of endeavor.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
E-mail: [email protected]