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TO komla

Catch Dumor on  Focus on Africa on BBC World News  (DStv Channel 400), weekdays at 7.30pm.

When it comes to the international media, perceptions of the African continent can vary. With this in mind, BBC World News launches Focus on Africa – a programme with a contingent of journalists from across Africa who contribute to it. Their innate cultural, philosophical and political understanding of the continent has great bearing on the debunking of certain beliefs that have taken root globally. Debashine Thangevelo enjoyed an insightful chat with the award-winning journalist and presenter Komla Dumor, who shed some light on the show…

 

THE pervading negative sentiments towards the African continent (and SA before we hosted the World Cup) doesn’t do much to boost tourism or paint a flattering picture.

Instead, picture more doom and gloom – unless, of course, Hollywood A-list celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt, or perhaps Madonna, decide to adopt a few children.

It’s a trend, should it gain even more momentum, insanely on par with Christian Louboutin’s latest shoe or handbag, or the latest fragrance by Jean Paul Gaultier, or a new design by Versace.

Komla Dumor, who joined the BBC and entered broadcast journalism in 2006, has extensive experience in the jounalisatic field, having spent a decade working on radio in his native Ghana prior to his move to the UK, as well as since joining the BBC before making the transition to TV.

A BA graduate in sociology and psychology from the University of Ghana – notwithstanding his MBA from Harvard – Dumor has had the pleasure of interviewing some of history’s icons, from Bill Gates to Kofi Annan, and he has been part of some momentous tragic and celebratory events; from the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the infamous Norway shootings to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding day.

The confidence and charm that is captured on camera shadows Dumor off-screen too.

In his rich, deep voice, he says: “It’s been an incredibly exciting journey. I joined BBC World Service from a local domestic radio station in Ghana, as a presenter on Network Africa, Focus on Africa, as well as on radio on the BBC World Service Radio. After two years I joined The World Today, which is the World Service’s biggest morning breakfast programme, and I made a transition a few years ago to television, first as a news presenter then as the presenter of Africa Business Report, the first BBC Business programme devoted to coverage of Africa, and now Focus on Africa is, in many ways, the pinnacle of what I have been doing at the BBC. I’ve presented European morning news for a period of time, but to add this to the repertoire of responsibilities is absolutely fantastic.”

On Focus on Africa expanding from TV from radio, he explains: “Well, our audiences get more demanding by the day… lol!

“In Africa, the way they receive information and content is changing as well, and they expect, you know, more analysis, more top content when it comes to African stories.

“There are many stories to tell about a continent that’s changing, and Focus on Africa is more to cover some of the challenging issues. But it will also provide a platform for sharing some of the triumphs of the continent.”

How is this show any different from a plethora of similar offerings, though?

Dumor defends: “First of all, it focuses on hard news and current affairs. Second, it is a programme that is driven by content from African journalists, people who know the ground, people who understand the issues. It is a daily news programme as well.

“It will be compelling, exciting and will leave viewers thinking well after the credits roll at the end of the half-hour.

“The success of many African businesses and the expansion of the African financial industry and the growth of telecommunications with it are stories that deserve to be told. Our goal is to provide a balance, not set an agenda. There are also a lot of difficulties and challenges that the contingent faces. I think we need a balance for all kinds of stories.”

As for Focus on Africa transforming perceptions – in a good way – Dumor shares: “I think stereotypes still exist for those who know very little. The show will perhaps broaden their under-standing and address some of the misconceptions about the changes occurring in Africa.

“I am sure readers will agree that coverage of the continent needs to be broader, needs to be deeper.”

While Dumor was not at liberty to discuss the content coming up, he urges everyone with a television to tune in to the daily news and current affairs programme.

 

• Focus on Africa airs from today on BBC World News on TopTV (channel 400) at 5.30pm.

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