I Did Not Know Komla

BBC anchor and celebrated Ghanaian journalist Komla Dumor passed away on Saturday only 41 years old. A terrible tragedy, but what I would like to focus my blogpost on is the reaction of Ghanaians, that I find overwhelming. 

I have followed the reporting – around the clock memories on radio, plenty admiration blogposts, a Facebook page for celebrating his life (currently with 16 400 likes), statements from big people like Kofi Annan and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and endearing BBC collages (I even shed a tear too). However, the magnitude of media space provided in Ghana reminded me only of when Ghana’s sitting president passed away in July 2012, and actually a radio host remarked that “last time we did this kind of all day broadcast was for President Mills”. I even heard rumours of a state funeral being prepared!

I would just like to stop for a minute here and ask, when Ghanaians are celebrating Komla Dumor’s life, what exactly is celebrated?

  • Excellent, investigative journalism?
  • Fame?
  • Alpha male-ness?
  • A good rep of Ghana?
  • A desirable lifestyle far away from the regular Ghanaians?
  • All of the above?

Yes, he was known to many Ghanaians as a radio journalist from the end of the 1990s. Yes, he was journalist of the year in the mid 2000s. Yes, he was well-known, handsome, tall and wore great suits. Yes, he represented Ghana well (but so do BBC journalists Akwesi Sarpong and David Amanor and other media folks around the globe). I feel that maybe it is his lifestyle (that now some people speculate killed him) with travelling the world, being where the action is, standing in front of the camera smiling…that secretly is the dream of the modern human being.

My Ghanaian friends write on social media: “I did not know Komla, but…” and paradoxically use his first name like he was an old friend. It is clear that Ghanaians are in shock at this man’s death. I find it sad, but I did not know him or his work. I do not have a TV with BBC on it (like most in Ghana) so did not watch his programs. I was not around when he was the first host of the SuperMorningShow. Well, maybe at times I have to accept that I still am a foreigner to Ghana and might never really understand where I have landed…

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  1. Hello Kajsa.
    Great article. Please correct the Alfamale to Alpha male.
    Most Ghanaian as you said do not have BBC, so effectively the elite is driving this media frenzy. I must admin, I had met him a couple of times in London at conferences and event, he was a great and actually humanly and humble man. I was also truely saddened by his death.