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Vol 60 No 17

Published 30th August 2019

Peter da Costa

It is with great sadness that we report the loss of Peter da Costa, journalist, economist and activist, on 18 August, a year to the day after the death of his friend and mentor, Kofi Annan. A practical pan-Africanist, Da Costa's mother was Gambian and his father Ghanaian. After spending much of his early career in Ethiopia, he married Ciru, a brilliant Kenyan political scientist, and helped raise two wonderful daughters, Yassine and Jarra, in Nairobi. Da Costa started out on West Africa magazine, then organised a network of correspondents in Africa for the Rome-based Inter-Press Service.

The journalists among us lamented what we had hoped would be Peter's temporary migration to the world of civic activism, think-tanks and international organisations. The truth is that he was one of the sharpest reporters and most insightful editors on the international scene. But it turned out to be a long respite from journalism. 

Proximity to the corridors of power left Peter better informed than ever about the failures of the international system. Yet he never allowed his clear-sighted analysis of politics and policy-makers to lessen his commitment to positive change. When it came to defending civil rights, getting people access to education and healthcare, or lobbying for equity and accountability, Peter's activism was an extension of his generous persona.  

Da Costa brought together three stellar qualities – deep love for his family and friends, intellectual acumen and a determination to change the world for the better – in an apparently effortless way.  

For so many of us, he was a great friend, the best company you could ask for – a fund of hilarious anecdotes and hard-headed argumentation on the issues of the day and the day after that. His great spirit will live on, cajoling and encouraging the next generation with the broadest of smiles.

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