"I still believe I have more years to live" - Komla said in 2009

"I still believe I have more years to live" - Komla said in 2009
Source: Ghana|Myjoyonline.com|Edwin Appiah|edwin.appiah@myjoyonline.com
Date: 24-02-2014 Time: 01:02:04:am

The two buddies -Bola Ray and Komla Dumor - blurted out their pseudo-prophecies quite innocuously.

Somewhere during the interview, Komla would say in such a 'done-deal' manner, with a certain 'matter-of- factness'  - "I still believe I have more years to live".

 Very oblivious of what has now become obvious to us.

It was a prediction that has been vetted by fate and scrutinized by destiny because with a paltry 18 days into a new year, fate would return to Komla with a dark verdict - no you don't.

A cruel fatal news like that aimless arrow, hugging the night sky and planting itself into Achilles' heel virtually on the blind side of his colleague greek soldiers - if you have watched that award-winning movie, Troy.

Sadly. Komla was wrong. He didn't have more years to live.

But Bola Ray's prediction was right. "16th July 2009 this day will go down in history" Bola Ray gleefully blurted out to his guest on Joy FM's Personality Profile, Komla Dumor.

Careless that fate had planted very single syllable of his sentence into his own mouth - sealed in destiny, done and dusted.

Because nearly five years later, Bola Ray would be sitting lonely, disinterested in talking on his own talk show as he replayed that interview beginning with an unusual signature tune - R.Kelly's The World's Greatest - a tribute to the Boss Player, Komla Afeke Dumor

" I am a mountain..I am a tall tree..

Oh, I am a swift wind...Sweepin' the country...

I am a river..Down in the valley..

Oh, I am a vision..And I can see clearly...

If anybody asks u who I am...

Just stand up tall look 'em in the Face and say

[Chorus]
I'm that star up in the sky
I'm that mountain peak up high
Hey, I made it
I'm the world's greatest
And I'm that little bit of hope
When my backs against the ropes
I can feel it mmm
I'm the world's greatest

A Doctor-like Journalist

Komla didn't become the doctor, he had wanted to be, he told Bola Ray on the program.

 And although he never regrets not becoming one, you couldn't help but notice how he brought a certain doctor-like mentality to his journalism - his surgical questioning prowess, his issues for discussion on the Joy FM Super Morning Show were like a stethoscope that could detect the heartbeat of the nation.

And he thought of his journalism as having healing powers too - wierd?

"I admire doctors. I have tremendous love and admiration for doctors and nurses in particular because they are the people who have an impact in people's lives by merely touching them. But radio presents an opportunity to touch people's lives as well, in that sense we do have healing qualities".

Touching, touching touching. With Komla, its always about touching. Touching something, somebody, some idea.

 

The making of Komla

It was as if Professor Dumor knew what he wanted his kids to be. Being an academic, his first love would be books. Reading was thus a first Dumor habit.

And Komla read -"it was mostly about books", he said.

For four years, there was no television at home – but there were newspapers. Tucked into the Professor's armpit, he would stride home looking to pour its content into the 13 year old’s head.

“My parents were academics...we valued education” he said, a testimony verified by his father as he read his attribute.

Our core values - "self denial, zeal for knowledge, ….. personal integrity “, a surprisingly well composed daddy read out during the funeral service.

So you see, Komla’s home was actually a senior secondary school already. I mean core values? So headmaster-like language, so much like a school’s motto.

And with that, the Boss Player’s flawless English pronunciation of words like ‘the world’ ‘morning’ ‘turning’ – was cemented.

“Now I look back and its [reading] a great blessing”, Komla reminisced.

It is then possible to understand the magnitude of his failure to complete medicine. "Depressing", he recollected. It was as great a taboo as being the pregnant daughter of a Presbyterian minister in the mid-50’s.

Failed in Nigeria, a start over in Ghana.

Komla said “I entered the university of Ghana with  mission get over the disappointment”.

Well for many a student like me, it was to get away from our parents.

This 'toll-boothing' University rejected his grades as unsuitable for medicine and recommended that he took A’Level exams to re-apply. He did. He passed. He came back. They told him, they didn’t even need his A’levels anymore. His previous grades are just fine – enter the University of Ghana.

So like an eager rooky determined to play his first competitive game, Komla was warming up for school. It had been a while sitting on that hard bench called home –school was the real deal- let the lectures begin.

Hold it right there, young man, fate would strike once again. The lecturers declared strike…over you know – bla, bla, bla,bla.

Komla was home again. His restlessness, one of fate’s strange leading into the arms of Joy FM because it was at home that her sister chanced on an advert for  the role of less fanciful traffic news reporter at Ghana’s first “serious private radio station”.

Sister: “ eeei Solomon parker is leaving Joy FM.They  are looking for a mobitel traffic man”

Komla, a Ghanaian returnee: “ Who is Solomon. What is Joy FM?

And after his sister explained to him, the restless Komla Dumor said “ am gonna give it a shot”

A shot? Call it anything but a shot, he gave it a bomb.

After some terrible starts, Komla Dumor seamed into the Joy FM family, working and schooling. He would move on to host the Super Morning Show. Bola Ray would join him at Joy and the two would become friends. Sometimes they would attend a programme together – Bola would play DJ, Komla would play M.C.

And he described his idea of a morning show.

“In those days we would get big names. the standard at BBC was the standard I had when I was here. We would never walk into the studio without knowing what we were going to do. We would never walk into the studio with a hand full of papers and call it a morning show.”

His best interview, he said, was here at Joy FM. It was when he spoke to Brigadier Charles Duke - an astronaut who landed on the moon.

And his most moving interview was with Azumah Nelson, when the legendary boxer had gone overseas for one of his epic fights. Azumah broke down recollecting how lonely he was in a foreign country fighting a foreigner with barely nothing more than a Ghana flag clutching the sky as his cheer leader.

"We all carry the aspirations of this country when we wake up to work", Komla said.

And he interviewed Ben Malor Dotse too. The veteran BBC broadcaster who hosted BBC Network Africa, now President Mahama's communication advisor.

Malor asked him, "Komla what are your ambitions?.

"Oh gosh Malor I hope one day I can present Network Africa" Komla said.

As fate would have it, Komla Afeke Dumor rode into Joy FM on a scooter reporting the traffic situation in Ghana, he rode out of Joy FM on an airplane “bring the world to Africa..and Africa to the world” at BBC.

At this point in the interview, calls and messages started flooding into the studio- mostly women. Bola would suggest to him, “a lot of women are calling you, Komla they like you”.

He would respond “No, that's not true. That’s because a lot of women listen to your show”.

 

How I met my wife

Evasive, determined to be evasive and succeeded being evasive. Komla would not give us one morsel of any romantic story about his relationship with Kwansema.

He would rather volunteer to tell you the composition of Iran’s nuclear program than get romantic.

For that part of the show, you would have to listen to his wife’s tribute five year later at the State House.

“18 years ago…Komla absolutely blew me away” she said with the passion of a sports commentator talking up a beautiful goal.

They were in a study group together doing sociology: (the things study groups do?)

She says, she “felt so intimidated” by his intellect, she decided to avoid him.

And “his velvety baritone voice”, coupled with his “supreme confidence”.

Kwasema appeared to have channeled her the passion behind her tears into an almost tangible sincerity in her testimony. She was passionate in her description – some determination to share her testimony convincingly because Komla convicted him.

“what do you see in this student boyfriend” her friends would ask back then.

“He was real. He is deep” she responded – somebody has no idea what this means.

And he painted a picture of a future so bright, she pledged her life to him, and him to hers. The result – a global fame of one of Ghanaians finest journalists and one of the 10 most influential Africans and the Springboard icon for 2013.

The only time Komla appeared unable to respond to a question posed by Bola Ray was when he was asked, “So Komla, what do you do to relax?” – Bola and relaxing?.

He paused.

“What do I do to relax?, he asked himself mulling over.

 “Do I ? I wonder sometimes? I probably just listen to music and watch movies. What I do to relax have almost become work”.

Even his entertainment was pretty serious. He told Bola Ray how much he liked Tupac because his songs were deep, solid content, sending a message coded in tunes.

Like “Me against the world”

 "Don't let the pressure make you panic when you get stranded and things don't go the way you planned" - a lyric that spoke to his story.

Tupac’s words was like a trainer psyching up his boxer in the corner, preparing to take on a sizeable opponent.

In the end, he actually conquered this world - at least BBC World, he was moving on to another feat, BBC's anchorman for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil - until death stopped him.

Apparently only death could stop this determined man but it was not until he conquered his past failures and fears, multiplied his talent, and showed the way to the top in journalism.

Always going the extra mile until perhaps, the miles got tired of getting ran out. Komla Afeka Dumor is no more.

And as he hovers into eternity, he would look back and fall on the words of Samson, the man who  defeated a 1,000 Philistines with nothing more than a jaw bow;

 "Out of a donkey's jaw I have made donkey's out of them".

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