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Independent radio pioneer Sputnik Kilambi dies at 55

Sputnik Kilambi []

Sputnik Kilambi []

When Free Speech Radio News began over a decade ago, one of the journalists I found most compelling was Sputnik Kilambi. A veteran reporter for Radio France Internationale, Kilambi’s FSRN dispatches came from the Balkans, from Columbia, Sri Lanka, and from Côte d’Ivoire. A Knight Fellow, she trained journalists and set up a television station in Rwanda.

“She also reported from India on the regional fall-out from the Sept. 11 tragedy, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the conflict over Kashmir,” Kilambi’s Knight page notes. “After a stint with United Nations Radio in Kosovo, she moved to West Africa, where she set up and ran the United Nations radio station in Cote d’Ivoire. The peace frequency, as it is known in the country, is the only country-based radio to cover both sides of Cote d’Ivoire’s political divide in terms of audience and voices aired.”

If Kilambi’s voice seemed to come from everywhere, it is because it did. How sad I am to report that Kilambi has died in a Paris hospital. Her daughter’s announcement has been distributed across Facebook networks:

I just got the news that last night, my mother, Sputnik, passed away in hospital in Paris.
It was quick, but also without pain, suffering and anxiety. Her partner Ian was there with her the whole time.

She had been living with Hepatitis C for many years, and had been diagnosed with liver cancer 18 months ago. She spent the last 18 months enjoying a healthy, active and argumentative(!) life in her house in Goa. A week ago she had to be hospitalized in Paris after the sudden discovery of a blood clot near her liver. Ian and other friends were with her during that time, and she was actually in pretty good shape, and ready to leave the hospital and resume normal activities … but it didn’t quite turn out this way. True to her nature, she left with a (peaceful) bang.
There will be get-togethers in Paris and India.

Memorials to Kilambi have been posted at FSRN and Democracy Now. Respect for a great journalist and humanitarian. Thanks to Tony Cross for making her daughter’s statement available via Facebook.

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One Response to Independent radio pioneer Sputnik Kilambi dies at 55

  1. Lina LECA July 12, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    J’ai rencontré Sputnik à RFI en 1995. Nous sommes devenues de bonnes amies et avons partagé de bons moments. Elle me manque déjà.
    Sister Lina

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