My Brother Komla

komla and herbertMy Brother Komla

Blessed is the man who dies pure, Cursed are the evil doers who survive!

Komla to be associated with you as a Brother and a Friend, to be someone who you could trust and depend on reveals more about all your friends than you! You are known as our untainted National land guard of probity, integrity, fearlessness and seeker of equity and the truth. People who claim to be your friends must be able to follow and stand by your side out of the shadows. Yes anyone who is a friend of ours must be able to take the heat!

We had a dream and we were a perfect team. Our principles in life were the same and were born out of a deep-seated desire to see equity and justice for all. You wore your heart on your sleeve fearlessly and with integrity and a pride that no one could challenge! You hated mediocrity and the arrogance of power. You hated excuses being given for ineptness and incompetence in public office because of being Ghanaian. You became global and Ghana’s Superstar!

As I think of you I received this quote and had to share –

“Take away your protective layers and open your heart to reveal your beautiful soul. Through an open heart we can learn the art of being humble, compassionate, joyful, peaceful, creative, and loving”

You were and are everything that most people are not!

Most people associate you with your incredible sense of humor, booming laugh and an extraordinary resonating voice.  The ladies loved those bear hugs, the laugh and that smile. You always reserved the most special hugs for Elinam in particular and Elorm knows the spare-ribs were reserved for him. You gave everyone a little magic and a dream. Yes you did not suffer fools but you had a big heart made of gold, chocolate, sugar and all things nice!  For me Boss, just hanging out and being real was special! Cooking for you, converting you to Kotoko, Arsenal, Saracens and sharing the values of my beloved rugby and cricket were as important as imagining what it would take to get our continent moving in the right direction

In the mid-morning of Saturday 18 January 2014 Komla left us suddenly, his appointed time with the Almighty God had come.  We were all deeply saddened by his untimely death, his apparent good health left us surprised and made it particularly difficult to come to terms with his absence.  Painful as his departure has been, his presence in our lives for 41 years has left us with the memory of a person who was generous and warm in spirit, for whom no obstacle was too high and no achievement too small, a person who will always be remembered by those whose paths he crossed. Indeed everyone whom I have met spoke of his warmth, his smile, his kindness, his objectivity, integrity and Yes, Elinam, his awesome hugs!

I paid a full tribute to him on the 2nd of February at the BBC’s organised memorial in St Martin-in-the-Fields.  I thought he was great but then I thought I was biased because he was my friend and kid brother.  But since his death all manner of people, many of whom had never met him, have said how much they admired him, how much they enjoyed his broadcasts, how proud they were of him. Indeed since the 2nd of February I have even, in discussions with his wife Kwansema, noted that even she did not realise the true greatness of Komla!

Komla, our Brother from different parents, you have rocked and shocked a nation both in life and in death!  You represented that beacon of life, which we all aspire to and few ever reach. That beacon was the light of truth, honesty, integrity, fearlessness, selflessness, care for others and redemption for many. It was based on a driven quest to succeed and derived from a sense of purpose harnessed by your belief in God!

Komla as I speak of you I must first try to explain who you are because you represent so much to so many in many different ways with very few comprehending who you really are! Indeed in many ways, with the exception of your Father Professor Ernest Dumor, Mawuena and Korshie, we are all by degree “late-comers”! We got to know and love you at various points of your life and you left indelible marks on us all as a result!

It is widely accepted throughout the world that “0koto nwo anoma” explains who we are and therefore we have to appreciate the background and brilliance of your parents. Your Father, Professor Ernest Dumor and late Mother, Cecelia Dumor were stalwarts of principle, integrity and excellence. Their parents are widely and rightly heralded for their greatness in the fields of Education and the Arts, in developing numerous schools in the Volta Region as well as in the composition of our National Anthem. Along with your sibling Mawuena and Korshie you are who you are because of your parents!

I emphasize this not only as a point of respect but also because they handed down to you those very qualities which have evoked the global respect and love we all have for you!

Professor Dumor, Sir, my first comments to you after Komla’s passing was that the night before he had spoken about how his faith in God against all negative forces had constantly seen him climb the ladder of life. Komla was a man who was guided fearlessly by his faith! Dad, Komla loved you more than you can imagine!

Mawuena, Komla sat with me for ten hours one day and six hours 2 days later less than a week before he left us and he spent five hours speaking about you … his love for his big sister and his fears for her. He wondered whether you would be allowed to show excellence in the face of  “haters” and whether you understood that not everyone wished Ghana well. Korshie, Komla was always so proud of you and boasted about your achievements and commitments as a Doctor. He loved his kid brother!

The greatest loves in Komla’s life were undoubtedly his three beautiful children. Elinam, Elorm and Araba. Dad loved you all more than anyone else on earth and now that he is in heaven I know he is smiling down on you. He planned for your future and wanted only the best for you and even as he desperately wanted to return to mother Ghana and take up the fight to get our country right, he spoke of the need to be able to look after his three beautiful children beforehand!

Elinam, Elorm, and Araba, your father was a giant, a real life hero, who touched the World with his presence and special charm. He was your hero who gave you special quality time and love! Kwansema I am not sure you realized until now what a superstar Komla was. Your husband was the ultimate seducer whom the whole world fell in love with and who you had to share as he grew into the superstar who rubbed shoulders with Presidents, Royalty, Beauty Queens and ordinary people alike! Dad, Mawuena and Korshie, Komla became the dream for a continent’s youth to aspire to and a barometer for those who are in power! Komla was Fearless, Principled, Determined, Ambitious but with Integrity…. Oh yes at times reckless too but then, I dare say, that comes with the territory!

I loved him for all of that and more and perhaps because like me, he was also fallible! He was human! We both learnt to question and continued questioning all things until we were satisfied. I have said, and I repeat, that like Komla, I have been brought up to understand things rationally. My judgment on situations and events has always been based on logic and a faith that God decides all matters. It is however at times like this when a pure soul, a younger brother and a friend is taken away at such a young and critical age that I am left questioning and confused. I am battling to understand why someone so pure and so important to us all has been taken away! Young people have called to tell me that their “dream” has been taken away. People who have lost faith in the “system” and who are looking over the horizon are traumatized by Komla’s departure! I now realize that I can never hope to understand a tragedy so great and unnecessary as this…. And though my love for God is unchallenged my faith is now being severely tested. I need to understand, beyond blind faith, why he has been taken away… I am struggling!

The quandary for us all lies in the suddenness of your departure. As we all put together the jigsaw of your last few months, days, hours and even minutes we still cannot fathom what could have happened and why our all-knowing God decided to take you!

You have succeeded in provoking a host of mixed and extreme emotions with your departure My Brother and for me, it represents the biggest test of my faith to date!

I say this because all signs show that you were well and strong! In the last few days we were all impressed with your new dietary, work and rest regimen and I was particularly impressed, not only with your appearance but by the discipline you had shown in managing your busy lifestyle. You were at a party the night before and returned home by midnight and you were well! Oh God let me understand what happened and why you took away our Brother!

Your departure has left us feeling that we must have let you down. You sought love and perhaps did not appreciate the extent to which you were loved. I am sorry if we let you down.  We promise you now that your true friends stood for the same ideals and we will keep them unwaveringly.

I humbly would like to say these words about my friend, brother, confidante and the all round wonderful person I have been privileged to know.  He had a joyful soul, he was a courageous enquirer and a strong conversationalist, he was an ambitious and insightful journalist, he was an unassuming role model, he was a child of Africa, a proud Ghanaian, he was a dutiful son, a faithful brother, a loving husband, a devoted father and a loyal friend.  We shall all miss him – he was the matter that filled the space that we shall always remember and talk about.

Let us celebrate his life and thank God for having given us such a wonderful brother, father and friend.  We will miss him dearly but we are truly blessed to have had the honour and pleasure of knowing him.

Elinam, Elorm and Araba you now have many Uncles and Aunties to give you special hugs and to spend time with. Dad in heaven will watch over you and we  your Uncles and Aunts will always be here for you! Kwansema as you move on in life you will be loved or judged on how Komla’s children are brought up in his memory. I pray that as they carry his name they will always understand how much he loved them and everything he stood for!

Khalil Gibran said “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

Komla, the pain we feel is only lightened in knowing that your smile and booming laugh are captivating all souls in heaven, as well as the fact that you have taken the lead and are waiting to welcome the rest of us.

Komla, Kim sent me a quote by Henri Nouwen, which I feel I must use as I end …

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in our hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

Komla may your soul rest in eternal peace with the Almighty God. Boss Playa you will never be forgotten.

WRONG is WRONG even if everyone is doing it.

RIGHT is RIGHT even if no one is doing it.

Tribute by Herbert Mensah to Komla Dumor, 22 February 2014, State House, Ghana

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