Kumla Dumor: World-class journalist


“I WORK for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), but now I am going to show my true colours,” screamed a smiling but earnest Kumla Dumor, surrounded by fellow Ghanaians in Accra, as he unbuttoned his shirt – just falling short of tearing it off – to reveal a T-shirt emblazoned with the national colours of Ghana, his fatherland, in front of BBC cameras ahead of the 2010 World Cup football finals in South Africa.

Conway Tutani Echoes

There was no better patriot and professional than Dumor, the Ghanaian-born BBC presenter who died suddenly last week at the peak of his powers and career. Dumor, who was 41 years old, died of cardiac arrest — or heart attack — at his London base.

Many people — including myself — were deeply saddened by the suddenness of it all and the enormity and immeasurability of the loss. Dumor was truly professional and a source of pride to the continent.

Dumor was born in 1972, the year the Watergate Scandal involving political dirty tricks against the then opposition Democratic Party broke out in the United States, resulting in disgraced President Richard Nixon resigning two years later after mounting and uncontestable evidence emerged that he had tried to cover up the scam engineered by his inner circle in his ruling Republican Party.

Washington Post journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward led the crusade to expose Nixon. That was the zenith of the watchdog role of the media in exposing abuse of State power and institutions. Any modern-day examples?

Although I did not know him personally, Dumor was always a more than welcome presence in my living room whenever he read BBC-TV news and gave other presentations.

He was so erudite and communicative about it. His journalism was not of the bragging, gloating, shallow kind as exhibited by many locally and abroad.

There has been a tendency to celebrate mediocrity. Even journalists on Chinese State TV don’t grovel to that sickening extent to which some of our journalists do.

They could learn a thing or two from Dumor who proved adept at his trade by showing intelligence, maturity and balance.

All is not lost because some among the emerging crop of local journalists have got what it takes to make it big if only they are allowed to unleash their talent, but the system won’t allow that.

Dumor was truly a man of the world. He made one proud to be African. He did not have a superiority or inferiority complex. With his natural ability, he did not have to prove anything to anyone.

Dumor made journalism look easy and effortless because he was so talented and highly qualified. Not that in his case qualifications mattered that much because qualification without aptitude or natural flair does not on its own count; what matters is finding your vocation, your calling.

In fact, Dumor dropped out of medical school at the University of Jos in Nigeria to read psychology and sociology in his native Ghana after realising that medicine was not his field. He then proceeded to Harvard University in the US, where he attained a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

With that academic background, he could as well have risen to BBC chief executive officer, but he chose journalism.

Dumor brought knowledge and context to issues, not half-baked, quasi-ideological claptrap, insincere, empty and pretentious language. He was the living fulfilment of journalism’s role of informing, educating and entertaining society.

Could there be something about Ghana? This is the country which gave the world Kwame Nkrumah, who led the first black African nation to independence in 1957, but was toppled mainly because of dirty tricks by the West when Africa was a political playground between the West and the East during the Cold War. The good, the bad and the ugly has to be mentioned without fear or favour.

Conquerors throughout history and the world over find it hard to let go. The 2008 general election in Zimbabwe is a case in point when the system turned defeat into victory.

Ghana is the the country which gave the world Kofi Annan, who became the first black African United Nations Secretary-General in 1997. Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings played no small part in this.

Rawlings initially came to power in 1979 by leading a military coup in “a housecleaning exercise”, whose aim was to purge Ghanaian society of rampant corruption and social injustices.

In Zimbabwe, the government is standing akimbo while some company executives are paying themselves US$230 000 a month.

Rawlings lived up to his promise to hand power back to civilian rule in response to demands for a more democratic process concerning the governing of the country. He did not stay a day longer.

Ghana needed that shock treatment to find equilibrium because the liberators had become the oppressors and exploiters. Coming from such a stable country enhanced Annan’s credentials to head the UN.

The political stability now prevailing in Ghana can be sustained because the nation is now at peace with itself. That is why it has been churning out giants like Dumor.

Ghanaian rulers do not tinge everything with rancorous ideology, but face their situation head-on. Ghana and Zimbabwe are now worlds apart.
Corruption cannot be mistaken for sanctions.

Rest in peace, Dumor, a true patriot and professional!


  1. “Government standing akimbo?” the Ministries that run PSMAS are Health and Child Welfare, Labour and Social Services and Finance. For the past 4 years of GNU, these were all run by the team from Harvest House namely Henry, Paurina and Tendai.

  2. The context of your story should dovetail into your headline. You seem to be touching on so many isuues that you do not properly address or expound. Why don’t you just stick to you main theme which is praise of the Ghananian. You are a typical example of a bad journalist

  3. what are u failing to bring out? Are u saying that this jurno is in the same ranks with Nkruma whose demise was because of dirty trix,according to u of cause? As for Koffo,he did nothing for Africa. Had it not been for the west our own Chidzero wud have been Sec gen of the un.

  4. utter rubbish!! This article has nothing to do wth Dumor but a veiled attack on the gvt,why dont you come out in the open and say yo piece?? This is dangerous and misleding journalism. Dumor was serving his master so therez nothing gret about him. I would hev respected him if he had worked fo Ghana media,serving Africa n not being a puppet.

  5. Guys. Guys! Calm down. Empty vessels make the most noise. Mr Tutani is a blogger/columnist. He has some creative license. It’s not a hard news story, it’s an opinion peace and you can’t discredit or expunge his opinion, as hge is entitled to it. He is writing an orbituary and offering his reflections on Ghana and Ghananians. If you could just read it you would then be in a position to say something meaningful. OPINION. COLUMNIST. BLOGGER. Can’t we we allow other to form and hold opinions?

  6. I have never seen you this animated..yes its true the Ghananian fellow was one hell of a good journalist with his signature smile. You pulled out all the stops in acknowledging the competence of a colleague. I liked this, “..not half baked quasi ideological clap trap, insincere, empty and pretentious language”..You may have been describing a colleague whose flirtations with journalism has fast reached its sunset. You know who. I take exception to the half truth about Nkrumah though..After starting off as Africa’s light and hope Nkrumah morphed into a thief ditto Emperor Haile Selasie. I am not sorry they kicked both out. Those who replaced them were no better, which is a shame. One Kenyatta also joined this club as can be shown by his widow being declared among the three African female billionaires. The other two are some Nigerian business lady and the daughter of Dos Santos, Angola’s president! Many thanks for the post though, I can not wait for next Friday’s post.

  7. An opinion is a judgment, viewpoint, or statement about matters commonly considered to be subjective, i.e. based on that which is less than absolutely certain, and is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts. What distinguishes fact from opinion is that facts are verifiable, i.e. can be objectively proven to have occurred. An example is: “America was involved in the Vietnam War” versus “America was right to get involved in the Vietnam War”. When an opinion is supported by facts, it becomes an argument, although people may draw opposing opinions from the same set of facts, like we have so many churches reading the same bible. Opinions rarely change without new arguments being presented. In casual use, the term opinion may be the result of a person’s perspective, understanding, particular feelings, beliefs, and desires. It may refer to unsubstantiated information, in contrast to knowledge and fact.

    There you have it. I for one will continue to read opinions from Tutani, Vince, Tendai and others but not from some, for the value I get from them. We must be careful that we are not setting policies based on opinions and not on facts? In fact when that happens we must challenge the same.

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