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Opinions of Friday, 23 May 2014

Columnist: Anor, Ofori G.

When New York Met Komla Dumor

It was a little over a week ago at a good sized hall in the UN Chapel in New York City. The attendance, drawn from a cross section of colleagues, friends, family, media consumers and even strangers was better than impressive. Persons affiliated with the UN, some diplomats, some international civil servants were there too. I came, a Ghanaian and a distant media consumer..

And then of course was Komla Afeke Dumor, smiling in all his transcendental glory in a life size portrait perched majestically on an easel in the front of the room.

Komla was not there in person. You know he would have been there in person had death not done its wicked job by snatching this fine specimen of a young icon from us when we least expected. Let me recall, without resurrecting its pain and grief, Komla’s passing on January 18.

We did meet Komla nonetheless on the May 2nd day. We met him through the efforts of his cousin Ms Kiki Gbeho, a team of volunteers, the National Council of Ghanaian Associations, Ghana’s Permanent Mission to the UN and the UNSRC Ghana Social Club led by Mr. Ishmael Dodoo.

We met and knew Komla by the words of younger brother, a colleague at BBC where Komla imprinted his footprints in gold on the rock face of time, a father still struggling to make sense of it all (if sense could be made), and those of Ambassador Kanda representing a nation at once cheated but grateful.
Prior to this event, I knew Komla from his body of work that I, like millions worldwide consumed on BBC’s Focus on Africa. The world has appropriately taken note and recorded it in volumes. He will forever live in history’s pages as a brainy and feisty broadcaster who told Africa’s story with a unique perspective and uncommon excellence that made even the complex understandable.

But this celebration brought Komla home to me first as a son and a friend. I would miss the son-friend that his father Prof Ernest Dumor spoke about – a son of his but not from him, one in his image but fine-tuned by his own unique endowments and personality, one with whom he shared ideas and thoughts on matters high and low. I ran with Prof Dumor the entire roller-coaster gamut of emotions a father runs when a gifted son gets admitted to medical school at age 17, drops out (not for failing but because he did not see it as “his calling”), goes back to scratch, graduates from college, becomes a journalist without any journalistic training and goes on to become an outstanding practitioner of the trade working in one of the greatest media outfits in the world!

I met the brother that Dr Korshie Dumor would miss for as long as he continues on – an elder brother, not unlike all elder brothers, that claims the exclusive right to bully you but would fiercely protect you from all predators, a brother that growing up you couldn’t stand one bit but secretly admired, one whose flips and flops shaped your fantasies and realities.
I came to know the colleague-friend that Gringo Wotshela had in Komla who literary lit and stayed on to fan the flames of Mr. Wotshela’s fledging journalistic career.
I met Komla in a 15 minute video clip showing him holding court at town hall-like event. There he was, on stage, flashing and glowing in the full array of his talents and expertise. This must have been the performance that prompted the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to aptly write: “Komla swept into the world, stylish and sure, with his big chuckle, the light in his eyes, a genuine goodwill for people, a familiarity with laughter. He had no false modesty, yet an endearing insecurity lurked beneath his flair-filled confidence. He had, too, something close to innocence, a wonderful capacity for wonder”.
Such was the celebration that brought home the damage death has done friends, family, colleagues, Africa and the world as a whole. Whereas I went as a media consuming stranger, I came out a father, brother, colleague. I am firm in my assertions that I touched and was touched by Komla; spoke and was spoken to by Komla, joked and laughed with Komla, even dined with Komla, my colleague and friend. His loss, though still bitter, lost its sting. His legacy is what endures. And it will endure in the Komla Dumor Memorial Foundation which has been set up to “be the platform for revitalizing Ghana's frontline efforts from the past till now as the beacon of hope for Africa” (Prof Dumor).

So let it be with Komla.
An alien and a sojourner have you been in this earthly life.
Your home paradise exists somewhere far, far away.
You laid no claim to any earthly abode.
Tribulation, distress and woes attended your human ways,
Heaven awaits you with God’s eternal repose.
From birth did you endure triumphs and trials?
Nary enough moments to savor your soul’s desires.
So therefore must you flap your wings,
And hasten thy flight to thy Creator’s side.