Komla Dumor And State Burial: Which Way?

Thu, 6 Feb 2014 Source: Otabil, Kofi

The question is: Do we as a nation just want to honour departed citizens as a send-off into eternity or as way of inspiring the next generation for national development?

So we were all shocked when news broke out that Komla Dumor, the BBC Focus on Africa Presenter, our cherished brother and friend has been called by His maker for a different assignment out of this earth. A lot of people have been devastated by his passing because Komla was such a sweet spirited-person who inspired anyone who listened to his voice on radio, watched him on TV or interacted personally with him. Komla Dumor clearly demonstrated that to be able to effectively tell the African story, one needs far more than vocabulary and reading skills but that, it takes certain depth of knowledge, enlightened mental capacity as well as developing a likable personality and infectious people skills to effectively carry the message across the globe. Komla started as a radio presenter on BBC’s Focus on Africa and in the space of seven years rose through the ranks to become the face of BBC TV’s Focus on Africa and would have been BBC’s face for the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup; what a ground-breaking achievement.

Usually, a state burial or funeral involves a public ceremony which is strictly observed in protocol and tradition to accord honour to people of national significance. In the UK, for instance state funerals are reserved for royals, heads of states and their spouses however few civilians who have distinguished themselves such as Florence Nightingale, the famous nurse was offered a state burial but her family opted to have a private burial. In another example, Prime Minister Tony Blair authorised ceremonial burial for Lady Diana after her death since she was no longer member of the Royal family. Examples in the USA shows that state funerals are the preserve of sitting or former Presidents, President-elect, their spouses as well as other people authorized by the President. It is worthy to note that certain individuals such as Rosa Parks, the civil rights activist were accorded a national burial service when she was laid in state for her role in upholding civil liberty of African-American movement. For the records, Police officers, Gibson and Chestnut were also accorded national burials when they were murdered by an assassin in line of duty of protecting Congressman Tom Delay. This goes to show that state burials have been accorded to individual citizens who have distinguished themselves in their professional duties.

Bob Marley, the legendary reggae super star, was accorded a state burial in Jamaica on May 21, 1981 for placing the country in a global perspective. He was a musician plying his music business but the government deemed it fit to accord him the highest honour of the land due to the fact that his personal achievements was viewed as a national achievement and honour. There comes a time when an individual’s achievement transcends personal interpretation into national honour and such is the achievements of Komla Dumor. To think that the Africa Union observed a minute silence in his honour tells us that he wasn’t just news broadcaster; he transcended broadcasting into an inspirational figure for the youth. The youth saw possibility about Komla’s ground-breaking achievements. He embodied the possibility of the African youth that if given the chance to explore their potentials they would achieve greater feats. Komla literally represented the excellent spirit of the Ghanaian and the African on the global front, telling the positive story that Africa is not all about famine and starvation but of excellence and good-neighbourliness.

Honouring Komla with a posthumous national honour will go a long way to inspire the youth that Ghana appreciates its heroes and that there’s hope for their future. Honouring Komla will be one of the most effective ways of enacting positive national youth policy statement to inspire the youth that the nation cherish and appreciates them. Ghana is an emerging nation so needs a positive youth policy statement to speed up the process of nation building and the time is now! I personally use a lot of social media and I haven’t come across a time such as this when the achievements of a fellow Ghanaian is so much adored globally by the youth as this time. Most Facebookers and Tweeter followers have Komla’s picture as their profile picture while others have it as their background profile picture. Such is the influence on the youth and the world at large. We need to send a positive signal to the youth that their future is well secured and that they can aspire to contribute their quota to national development.

May the good Lord console and protect Kwansema, his beloved wife, the children, the family and close friends. It is very painful to lose Komla at such a critical stage however; we’re consoled that he’s finished his race, served his generation, left a legacy and kept his faith in God. Komla Dumor: A LIFE well-lived & a PERSONALITY well-loved. God bless!

Writer: Kofi Otabil

Columnist: Otabil, Kofi