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Obituaries

P. Wamba, 31; Author and Son of Rebel Leader

September 16, 2002|From Associated Press

Philippe Wamba--author, journalist and the son of a Congolese professor who became a rebel leader--has died in an automobile accident in Kenya. He was 31.

Wamba was driving with his brother, James, 25, and an unidentified friend when his car struck an oncoming truck Wednesday, his cousin, Richard Bazangoula, said Saturday.

Speaking by telephone from his home in Lynn, Mass., he said Wamba had died of his injuries on the way to a hospital in the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. The brother and friend were injured, but their lives were not in danger, Bazangoula said.

Wamba moved from Cambridge, Mass., where he edited the Web site Africana.com, to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in April after receiving an Alicia Patterson journalism fellowship to write about the challenges facing African youth in the 21st century.

From Dar es Salaam, Wamba traveled throughout Africa to learn what young people were doing to improve their lives and those of their communities.

Wamba, a graduate of Harvard and the Columbia School of Journalism, was the son of Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, one of the first rebel leaders to take up arms against then-Congolese President Laurent Kabila when the four-year war in Congo broke out in August 1998. His mother was Elaine Brown, an African American.

Born in California in 1971, Philippe Wamba was raised in Boston and Dar es Salaam. His experiences as the son of an African and as a black American living between the United States and Africa formed the core of his 1999 memoir "Kinship: A Family's Journey in Africa and America," which also explores three centuries of shared history between Africans and black Americans.

He had been editor in chief at Africana.com since July 1999, and his writings were published in journals in the United States, Britain and Tanzania.

Bazangoula said arrangements were being made for a funeral in Dar es Salaam.

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