BBC TV presenter Komla Dumor has died suddenly at his home in London at the age of 41, it has been announced. Ghana-born Dumor was a presenter for BBC World News and its Focus on Africa programme.
One of Ghana’s best-known journalists, he joined the BBC as a radio broadcaster in 2007 after a decade of journalism in Ghana. Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama said on Twitter that his country had lost one of its finest ambassadors. BBC Global News Director Peter Horrocks called Dumor a leading light of African journalism who would be deeply missed.
He was “committed to telling the story of Africa as it really is,” Mr Horrocks said in a statement. “Africa’s energy and enthusiasm seemed to shine through every story Komla told”. “Komla’s many friends and colleagues across Africa and the world will be as devastated as we are by this shocking news.”
The BBC understands he had suffered a heart attack. Komla Dumor featured in New African magazine’s November 2013 list of 100 most influential Africans. It said he had “established himself as one of the emerging African faces of global broadcasting”, who had “considerable influence on how the continent is covered”.
James Harding, BBC Director of News and Current Affairs, spoke of Komla Dumor’s “singular role in transforming the coverage of Africa”. “He brought a depth of understanding, a great deal of courage, a joyous charm and boundless charisma to his work,” Mr Harding said. Komla Dumor had a wide-ranging career as an interviewer and presenter
Komla Dumor was born on 3 October 1972 in Accra, Ghana. He graduated with a BA in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Ghana, and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University.
He won the Ghana Journalist of the Year award in 2003 and joined the BBC four years later. From then until 2009 he hosted Network Africa for BBC World Service radio, before joining The World Today programme.
In 2009 Komla Dumor became the first host of Africa Business Report on BBC World News. He was a regular presenter of Focus on Africa and had fronted the programme the day before he died.
He travelled across Africa, meeting the continent’s top entrepreneurs and reporting on the latest business trends around the continent.
He interviewed a number of high-profile guests including Bill Gates and Kofi Annan.
Last month, he covered the funeral of former South African President, Nelson Mandela, whom he described as “one of the greatest figures of modern history”.
He anchored live coverage of major events including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the funeral of Kim Jong-il, the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Norway shootings and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
In his review of 2013, published last month, Dumor said the passing of Mandela was “one of the moments that will stay with me”.
“Covering the funeral for me will always be a special moment. I will look back on it with a sense of sadness. But also with gratitude. I feel lucky to have been a witness to that part of the Mandela story.”
Meeting Komla Dumor for the first time in Ghana in 2007, BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet said she had noticed how young Ghanaian journalists looked up to him.
He never flinched from asking tough questions, but also loved to share a laugh, she says.
She adds that Komla Dumor had many loves including football, his faith, his family: “He always said ‘I just love talking with people’.”
Here is a selection of your comments left on the BBC website:
Justice Lee Adoboe, Accra, Ghana: Komla was the trail blazer of modern radio journalism in Ghana. He was the icon, most of us local journalists looked up to, for inspiration. May he rest in peace.
Samuel Nyambu, Nairobi, Kenya: As an ardent listener of the BBC, Dumor’s voice had become a signature for all news in Africa and my encounter with him on TV matched the energy and enthusiasm that came across while on radio. I will definitely miss him and I condole with his family, his BBC fans and the BBC family. May his soul rest in peace.
Jimbo, Pattaya, Thailand: I loved this enthusiastic and dedicated man. My heart goes out to his family and friends in this tragic time. Hard to believe I will not see his smiling face and down to earth assessments of his home roots, Africa, again. A tragedy and one which I trust BBC will honour and respect to the best of their ability. Amongst all of the BBC’s many great and famous human assets, Komla Dumor’s name should today be irrevocably established.
Emmanuel, New York City, USA: I first met Komla while we were both students at the University of Ghana around 2000-2001. He was working at JOY FM while still studying at the time. He was affable, friendly and had a good sense of humour. I have also been in the studio with him once as the second highest winner of a radio contest, where he quizzed us for the grand prize a couple of years later. We have spoken on the phone a couple of times and chatted on Facebook once or twice and when he was about to start BBC Focus on Africa TV he asked me to kindly publicise the programme banner with his photo on my profile, and I did. The last time we met, we were both in Addis Ababa in October 2012 at the Second Africa Trade Forum organised by the UNECA. He was there to moderate some of the sessions and I was covering for Ghana Business News. He made a mark on radio journalism in Ghana, and was a great source of inspiration for many Ghanaian youth, especially, those who wanted to get into radio. May his soul rest in peace.
Vanessa Bobai, Ottawa, Canada: Komla was a great man and very passionate about his job. He brought out the best in everything he did. Komla rest in peace you will be greatly missed.
Rickie Davies, Ghana: It is a sad day today, we have lost a talented journalist. I am still in shock. A true representation of Africa, strong, a true gentleman, a go getter. You will be missed Komla.
Beverley Zimba, New York, USA: Komla was like a brother that I never met. That smiling happy face will surely be missed. What a loss! Komla my brother rest in peace.
Charles Okot, Kampala, Uganda: I am really shocked and saddened by the tragic news of the death of Komla Dumor. I watched Komla on Friday evening full of life and humour. Komla always makes me smile in front of the TV. This is a terrible loss for Africa, BBC and the entire world. May his soul rest in eternity!
Jack Wolstenholme, Kranevo, Bulgaria: I am in deep shock, hearing of the early death of Komla Dumor. He added a different aspect on the world’s developing stories, somehow making many, pleasant and more understandable, even with sensitive subjects. He will be really be missed by the viewing audience.
Anderson Chinorumba, Gaborone, Botswana: I remember his coverage at the World Cup 2010. The time he took off his shirt to reveal the Ghananian football team jersey he was putting on. He was a light indeed to many particularly African journalists. He will be greatly missed for his tireless efforts in journalism.
Maximus, London: As a fellow Ghanaian I’m saddened to hear the death of Komla Dumor. As a child growing up in Ghana I always listened to his shows on the local radio and when I moved to London I was honoured to have met him in person whilst at work at the Apple Store in White City.
Denise Sangster, San Francisco, California: Mr. Dumor brought to the world the hope, vision, plight, and challenges of Africa in an understandable manner with his unique perspectives, interviews and coverage of stories that no other network covered. I am sorry to learn of his passing. My thanks to his family and BBC for sharing him with the world. My sympathies to his family, friends, colleagues and fans.
Komla joined the BBC African Service in 2007, after more than a decade working as a radio presenter in his native Ghana. He recently became the lead presenter of the BBC’s first daily television programme for Africa.
He had a wide-ranging career as an interviewer and presenter – his interviewees included former US President Bill Clinton and the grandson of Nelson Mandela, Ndaba Mandela.
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