Only a large framed smiling photograph of Komla Afeke Dumor was present at the St Martin-in-the-fields Anglican church in Trafalgar Square London last Saturday February 1 2014 when family, friends and BBC colleagues gathered to pay tribute to the late BBC radio/TV presenter during a memorial service. Fondly called “the boss player”, Komla died suddenly at his London home on Saturday January 18 2014 of a suspected heart attack. He was 41.
The Associate vicar of the church Rev Richard Carter told mourners that Komla “inspired love in all who knew him. Not only did he shine a light, he was the light”. He thanked God for Komla’s life and wished him well in his last journey on earth.
BBC African Service deputy editor Josephine Hazeley in her inimitable style, brightened the memorial as she re-counted the happy times, jokes and friendly smile Komla had for everyone. His “untimely departure is so unbelievable…It’s been desperately sad for us”, she said. Komla she added, was an accomplished journalist who could jump from the very mundane subject of a bleaching girl in Nigeria to the deadly fighting in Southern Sudan effortlessly. She provoked some laughter when she revealed that as soon as her 70 year old aunt in Sierra Leone heard of Komla’s death, she called and left a message on her answer phone asking, ”what has the BBC done with my boyfriend?”, a reference to the global appeal that the late BBC TV presenter had.
Peter Horrocks, BBC global News director said Komla was a proud African who liked celebrating his “Africanness”.
The highlight of the eulogies was a tribute to the fallen journalist by his grieving wife Kwansema. A friend read the tribute on her behalf. “He was a good husband and companion and father to our children. I will miss his voice, the happy times and especially Sunday when he cooked for us” she said. “We love you and miss you”, her tribute concluded.
Other speakers at the memorial service included Komla’s close friend Herbert Mensah, while Komla’s daughter Elinam Dumor read from 1 Thessalonians 5:14-23.
“May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus” she read.
Komla’s BBC African service colleagues sang a tribute song to him, Asimbonanga, an adaptation of Johnny Clegg’s song about Nelson Mandela. Close family and friends later lighted a candle each for Komla.
Former BBC African Service editor Robin White, Ghana High commissioner to the UK Prof Kwaku Danso Boafo and hundreds of friends and family members attended the memorial service.
His remains are expected to be flown to Ghana soon for the final rites and burial