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African Foundation for Development

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Komla, was one of the pre-eminent interpreters of this new Africa of 5-6 per cent growth rates, confident assertions and vibrant social, cultural and economic transformations. He had become one of its best symbols.

 

 

He was in a good mood at the party – his voice booming and shaking the room with his laughter. Laughing as well, I asked why he was now so difficult to pin down. My office had been trying to get hold of him to invite him to a March 2014 conference AFFORD was planning, to deconstruct this Africa Rising narrative the media was spinning. I chided and equally flattered him about being too busy for us small folks, as he hung out with the likes of President Clinton.

He boomed back – ‘no, no…let’s do the work. Send me the details. I want to do this...here call me on this number…Let’s do this.’ 14 hours later he was dead.

 

The brief exchange with Komla typifies his attitude and generosity. And why he was always so busy. He must have known he had a punishing schedule ahead of him – especially as rumours were circulating that he was going to be the face of this year’s World Cup for BBC World. Yet he was always open to people. Always always trying to help, always trying to tell the African story in its organic complexity. And in doing so he took on far too much.

Like many around the world, we are shocked and saddened at AFFORD to lose such an intelligent and sympathetic interpreter of Africa. He celebrated the energy and wealth transforming the continent, while never forgetting to remind us of the millions being left behind. He was an intimate insider, who understood our dreams and challenges, and shared these with the wider world on terms that did not embarrass or humiliate us, but enhanced our humanity. He was the kind of reporter we have long dreamed about. And to see him made flesh was a wonderful thing.

We send our deepest condolences to his wife and children, and their wider family and friends. They have lost a much loved husband, father, son, and brother. We have lost a gifted interpreter and African ambassador.

Below in this celebrated TEDx talk, Komla explains his approach to reporting Africa...

Onyekachi Wambu, Director Engagement & Policy, AFFORD

 

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