In Loving Memory of Our Friend, Dr Peter K.A. Da Costa

In Loving Memory of Our Friend, Dr Peter K.A. Da Costa
It was immediately clear when we first met Dr Peter K. A. da Costa in 1993, that he could see around corners. He had travelled to Harare as part of preparations for his move to Zimbabwe to take up his leadership role with the third world news agency Inter Press Service (IPS) as the Africa Regional Director.
His intellectual vivacity was as frenetic as it was liberating. Peter affirmed us. He made us all feel that it was okay to be black, African and brainy. His expansive mind was unencumbered by boundaries. It was also accompanied by an intensely pragmatic capacity to work fast and thor- oughly. And on a shoestring budget. IPS Africa required a leader who could be pan African, yet global; and Peter gave us that purview.
At IPS, Peter set, expected and delivered exceptionally high journalism and work place standards. He created room for us to imagine new partnerships and ways of working. By his side, we built a form of developmental journalism that especially lifted and amplified the previously silenced voic- es of women and girls. His commitment to women’s rights and gender equality emboldened us.
His departure from IPS was one of the smoothest leadership transitions we have ever experi- enced. His succession strategy was carefully crafted to ensure that our boats would not rock.
We were very proud when Peter fulfilled his dream to study for his PhD; and shared with us his progress. We felt that his academic accomplishments made all of us, his contemporaries, look equally brilliant.
As our shared friend over the last two and a half decades, Peter was both loyal and generous. His responsiveness to us all is legendary. No email, Skype ping or text message seeking his honesty and advice went unanswered. He knew our families well, and always asked after them with thoughtfulness. We will miss his emotional attentiveness and treasure his availability tremendous- ly.
Even though his work demanded much of him, and left little time for socialising, over the years, whenever he passed through Harare he always invited his groups of often very loud and opinion- ated female friends to dinner. It was a substitute for how he used to cook a pot of his trademark Gambian gumbo served with Jollof rice for us when he lived in Zimbabwe. Our kitchen cupboards were stored with the very best Kenyan coffee and tea, lugged from Nairobi where he had estab- lished his home and found love. It was the way that he showed us that he cared deeply for all of us and remained connected to us.
His death, on August 18, 2019 has brought us painful tears. It has also reminded us of much cher- ished memories. For all his genius, Peter had a wicked sense of humour. And a face so expressive he could seldom conceal when something tickled him. And as we mourn a gigantic loss, we hold fast onto the legacies he planted within each of us.
We send our love and condolences to Ciru, Peter’s wife and to his daughters Yassine and Jarra. Although we are far away from you, we mourn with you and hold you in our hearts.
Beryl Mutonono-Watkiss Patricia Made
Farai Samhungu
Nyasha Musandu
Nakai Matema
Felix Musaitehasha Nancy Kachingwe Bella Matambanadzo
Harare, Zimbabwe: 26 August 2019


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