We joined the congregation of the Good Shepherd brethren of the EP Church at Lashibi, Accra, to send off Akora Dan Kwedeha to his Maker. Brother Captain Hope and the family had decided that the last separation of remains from his spirit should take place at Anloga, from whence Dan had arrived on earth in 1950.
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OAA 69 (Old Achimotans Association) for which Dan had served as Secretary in its most difficult period, made a very impressive turnout (ferreting out folks not seen for nearly 50 years as they literally manifested “scattered far and wide” of the school hymn).
It turned out that Dan Kwedeha (Uncle Dan) had been secretary to just about every group he had ever been part of in his life because of his quiet, unassuming but totally meticulous and effective organisational skills. Akora former President Sara joined with us in recognition of Dan’s immense support during her presidency.
Dan’s journey to Heaven had started with the most enthusiastic and vigorous display of ‘Boborbor’ I have witnessed since the illusory “liquidation of the World Bank” of my failed tilt at the Presidency of Ghana; and this was in the House of God.
At Anloga, we witnessed the far more efficient way of burying the dead; namely to have the grave and its tombstone all ready and in place ahead of time. None of the scraping of fresh soil to stop the looting of the parting booty, or let’s come a year later to unveil a gravestone.
On our way to and especially from Anlo (inebriated from the fruits of the inception miracle), our thoughts returned to the period of our lives which had brought us together from Gambaga to Accra, from Wiawso to Keta; “to subjugate ourselves that we may rule”.
The “grey city on the outlaw hills” was very clear about its vision and purpose. Achimota was to be the nurturing ground that produced purposeful, committed, united, and above all, humble natives from every mud hut and mortar home to prove Akora Osagyefo’s vision that the “black man was capable of looking after his own self.”
Our lamentations of failed dreams, unfulfilled plans and the accelerated reversal of our country into pre-historic primitivism, was rudely shattered by two messages to my ‘what’s up’ port. The first was an inquiry: “Is it true about Komla Dumor?”
The second was no holds barred; a forwarded twitter message with picture and all, “Komla Dumor is dead”. The ‘ Boss Player’ was gone to his Maker; suddenly and shockingly cut off in the prime of his life and on the cusp of bestriding the latest pinnacle of his burgeoning and glittering career as one of the most talented and best journalists of the modern global media.
The BBC has done right by Komla. It has made rolling headlines of his death. His colleagues who have had to bear the bad news through the 24 news bulletins have done so with visible emotion.
Lyse Ducet, Chief International Correspondent, summed it all up when she said Komla Dumor’s mission was to tell Africa’s real story to the world. Not only had he started well, but he was so good at what he did that “Auntie Beeb” decided his talents should be enjoyed beyond Africa, culminating in his selection as the BBC’s anchor of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
I first encountered the Boss Player in his early days on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM. In spite of and maybe because of my very ‘controversial’ posture on the affairs of Oman Ghana, Komla and I often engaged in vigorous and quite heated interviews on the SMS.
The remarkable thing was that each ended with us thanking each other, instead of ranting at each other. The Boss Player was simply the best.
Our most memorable encounter was the interview that gave birth to the “Wiase ye sum” descriptor to the ubiquitous black polythene bag. The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) was up in arms and issued a ‘fatwa’ to uproot the tree from which I was swinging if I did not put up and name the scribes whom I was suggesting were resorting to blackmail to grow their ‘soli’.
The Boss Player rescued my reputation and probably life by ferreting and playing a tape of a seasoned journalist soliciting GH¢5 million from a hapless Lebanese businessman, He played it not once, not twice but at least 100 times; ending each excerpt with “This is what Tarzan called “Wiase ye sum”.
The Boss Player and I grew close. He called me Uncle and for good reason too. His mom, Cecelia, was an Akora classmate to Joyce, who was Senior Prefect and was to become Mrs Tarzan (‘punching above my weight’ as Ambassador Oporee never stops reminding me).
His dad, Prof. became a close pal as he struggled to get the National Identification System up and running with little resources from we who had invited him to get it going.
I was very touched when Komla searched me out to bid me farewell while he was on his way to Harvard to improve his CV since his awesome talent clearly needed little improvement.
When Komla deservingly won the Best Journalist of the Year award in 2003, most of his jealous colleagues could not applaud his genius but resorted to facetious tittle-tattle about him not being a trained journalist. (Still being reprised today as "we are not training the right people for the right jobs").
But he pressed on and the BBC, the most celebrated broadcasting platform in the world, offered the Boss Player his global break without asking for his diploma from the Ghana Institute of Journalism or Master’s from the School of Communications Studies, University of Ghana.
I last saw Komla on March 6, 2007 at the Independence Square. He was covering the celebrations by getting the perspectives of the ‘goro boys’ doing their own versions of the celebratory displays on their motorbikes.
When I queried why he seemed to be singing the same desolate story of a poor and hapless continent, the Big Boss simply replied, “I have just gotten on board and my mission is to use the opportunity to tell Africa’s story from Africa’s viewpoint’.
Komla Dumor achieved his vision. He transformed the BBC’s “Focus on Africa” from a radio platform with an Africa listenership, to a first-class TV programme watched around the world.
Africa telling its own story started with “The Africa Business Report”, where the Boss Player showcases Africa’s vibrant initiatives to move from Handouts to Handshakes. He went on to bestride the BBC’s Global News coverage as a giant among his peers. His gentleness, respect and achievement were a cut above all others.
The lesson I have learned from the coincidence of Akora Dan Kwededa’s heavenly ascent and Boss Player Komla Dumor’s truncated life at its prime is that every Ghanaian living everywhere is capable of playing a significant part on life’s stage.
The essential prerequisite is for one to be a selfless doer and not a groaning moaner who whines and carps incessantly about the enormity and impossibility of trying to make a difference. I have also learnt that our entrances and exits do not always conform to the ordained script of three scores and 10.
Akora Dan Kwedeha and Komla Boss Player Dumor brightened their corners of the world with the diligent and committed demonstration that the Maker did indeed create all the peoples of this planet in his own image. Both put the greater Good of their societies ahead of attending to the very clear and present dangers ticking away in their personal lives.
Farewell, Uncle Dan. Farewell, the Boss Player. You enriched our lives and showed that each and every one of us can make the difference that affects our society in a positive and beneficial manner.