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The real lesson that Komla Dumor's death teaches

Wed, 26 Feb 2014 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J. K. Bokor

Monday, February 24, 2014

Folks, our beloved brother, Komla Afeke Dumor, is gone—and gone forever! We have mourned him to the best of abilities and listened to praise-singers eulogize him for all that he stood for. He will be sorely missed.

Whether from Ghanaians of all shades (as usual, the politicians hogging the limelight just to make room for their hot-headed but beguiling rhetoric), the British Broadcasting Corporation that profited from his talents, or the international community that his "dexterity" as a TV broadcaster appealed to, we have heard eulogies that will forever remain as an appropriate reminder of what he stood for and why his death touched us deeply.

We are not yet sure whether a replacement for him will emerge—and from where. After all, many Ghanaians have ever worked with and for the BBC, even if they couldn't attain the stature that Komla carved for himself and Ghana (which would warrant President Mahama's elevation of him as "Ghana's gift to the world").

Certainly, a great loss!!

Now, if one considers the issues raised by Komla Dumor in his years of journalism, one wonders if the real lesson that he sought to teach has been learnt or will be learnt by the very people praising him (just because the press has given them the coverage that they deserved as public figures) to change living conditions so the very deprived segments of society can benefit from good governance.

Of course, all the countries that featured in Komla's broadcasts have natural and human resources that could have been managed to improve living standards. If my memory serves me right, I can say with measured confidence that in all that he did, Komla sought to draw attention to the excruciating poverty and dehumanization evident in those countries.

That was his way of drawing the world's attention to the problems facing the hundreds of millions of people in areas that showed up on his radar screen as he pushed himself to extend the BBC's coverage of deprived parts of the world, especially Africa.

He is gone and is being fondly remembered. The speeches made on the occasion have been heard. But is anybody ready to learn the real lesson that Komla sought to teach through his work?

The greatest tribute to be paid to him should be captured in how such a lesson will be put to good use to solve pertinent problems. Not until we see anything to that effect, I daresay that all the noise being made in his memory will amount to naught.

And it will fade away as soon as his grave is sealed tight. Naming a street after him or establishing a "trust" in his name isn't the answer to the questions that his professional work asked.

Applying the lesson taught by him to improve living conditions to uplift standards will serve useful purposes and make him smile in his grave. Otherwise, all that we have heard from the praise-singers will remain as a constant reminder of the inadequacies of our leaders and the system that brought them into power.

Komla Afeke Dumor has thrown the challenge. How do we respond to it?

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.