It was with shock that we received the news of the untimely passing of BBC World News' Komla Dumor.
The talented broadcaster and journalist, passed on suddenly at age 41 at his London home on Saturday. His BBC World News publicist, Jessica Culshaw confirmed his death to the SMtv team on Saturday, just a few minutes after she had landed in Hanoi, Vietnam.
@Buhlebonga thank you Buhle. I'm away in Vietnam and only just heard. I can't believe it. I am sad beyond belief. He was an amazing person.
— Jessica Culshaw (@JessCulshaw) January 18, 2014
Sad beyond belief that my amazing colleague & friend @BBCkomladumor passed away. He made my job a pleasure. An inspiration & a gentleman x
— Jessica Culshaw (@JessCulshaw) January 18, 2014
Dumor was a real class act and one of the best news anchors the world has ever had. Not only was he a great journalist and newscaster, but he was a great ambassador of African newsmen and he made his country of birth, Ghana, and the continent very proud.
From his beginnings as a radio traffic reporter in Ghana, where he rode on a motorbike in Accra covering the latest traffic news. This gave him the needed grounding in news reporting and he soon was with the BBC.
Komla loved South Africa. His last trip here was for the Mandela funeral. He loved going to Soweto. He had made some friends in the country and he would go with them to Soweto.
He also loved Durban. The last time he was here, he stayed at the Oyster Box in Umhlanga, where our reporter, Buhle Mbonambi, met and spoke to him about the BBC World News show, Focus on Africa.
Here's the article Buhle wrote about meeting Komla and the show, in 2012.
BBC World News’ new show Focus on Africa promises to show and change the world’s perception about Africa. Buhle Mbonambi spoke to the host, Komla Dumor
BBC's Focus on Africa aims to set straight the many misconceptions held about the continent and delve into its many issues by reporting on major news and news events in the continent.From the Sudan crisis; the impact of Europe's economic issues; the growth of natural resources and will also challenge African leaders and politicians on tough issues that Africa faces. Ghanaian journalist Komla Dumor and Kenya's Sophie Ikenye are the presenters of the news show."The thing is we need this show because Africa is changing, politically and socially. It's become more sophisticated, modern and, in a way, world-class and we need to present that on the programme," Dumor said.Dumor believes that having black African journalists presenting a programme about Africa will give it the credibility that was lacking in previous shows. "It's a show for a global audience, so it's better that we present it because we (black journalists) will understand the landscape and the African people better. My colleagues in the field are able to tell stories that non-Africans would miss and that gives the world another glimpse on Africa that they normally don't get to see."We've had CNN presenting a similar show, Inside Africa, but, Dumor believes that they have the edge over their competitors. "I have much respect for my good friend Isha (Sesay from CNN), but this is not a special. It's a daily news show that will focus on Africa and reporting African stories for the global audience," he said.He insisted that the show wasn't a PR mission about showing the world the other side of Africa. "Focus on Africa is not aiming to whitewash the problems that plague Africa. If there are stories to tell about violence, war, famine and political turmoil, we will tell them."He is an optimist, though. "I believe that there are good stories about Africa that need to be told and we'll be doing that."Dumor got into journalism by mistake. "I was in medical school for four years and it just wasn't going well. I wasn't passing my exams. I guess I didn't have the needed discipline to study for so many years, so I chose another career." He got into broadcast after his lecturers went on strike. "I was getting bored sitting at home, so my sister told me that a local radio station (Joy FM) wanted a traffic guy and I went for it. I did traffic reports on a motorbike riding around Accra." His bosses realised he was talented, so he was soon offered a late-night slot on radio. "I put on my best Barry White voice and presented that show like my life depended on it. I then got the morning show and I changed it to become more of a talk radio station instead of playing more music."He was posted to Soweto during the 2010 World Cup and fell in love with the place. "I can tell you many things about Soweto. If you want the perfect chill spot in Joburg on a Friday, go to News Café Maponya Mall." He's also fallen in love with SA and tries to come back as often as possible. "I've been here more times than I've been back home in Ghana in the past few months, so yes, I do love this place." Some of his favourite places in Africa include Addis Ababa, Maputo, Lagos, Kigali ("the cleanest place in the world"), Cape Town and Durban. "After the rush of Joburg, Durban is the best place to come and relax. I woke up early today and the sunrise from my hotel room (The Oyster Box) was amazing and it's those little things that make Africa one of the best places in the world."
Here's a recent post by Komla we found on the Komla Dumor Tributes Facebook Page:
Komla Dumor's recent post:
God has been very good to me. Last year I experienced a lot of illness. My BP nearly gave me a stroke but I trod on. Waking up at 2am and heading to work, exhausted sometimes, aching in my body and soul, mentally and emotionally drained, but I kept going. I smiled for the camera. I volunteered for extra shifts, I showed respect for my colleagues from directors to security guards. I took a lot of jealousy driven vicious insults and backstabbing from petty people without reply. I remain silent in my personal strife and misery. I kept smiling and pushing on to present better and to engage with my audience and increase my following. Long days and frustrating times but I kept going, throughout the west gate mall coverage, through the Mandela funeral, even when illness had me collapsing, I delivered. Today my boss, the head of television called me for a one minute meeting. He said Komla, we have decided to make you the anchor presenter for our coverage of the World Cup in Brazil. We shook hands and I left. I looked to the sky and said thank you Lord for reminding me that you are on my side. The enemy will be scattered. Selah Selah. Praise Him. Tomorrow is another day..
Komla will be missed. May he Rest In Eternal Peace.