AUB mourns Lawrence Atiase, the Union’s very first Director General

Mr. Lawrence Atiase died on April 08, 2020 in Senegal and was buried in the Saint-Lazare cemetery in Dakar, in strict family intimacy, in view of the prevailing health crisis currently in the world. He has been the AUB’s CEO from 2006 to 2015.

The news of his disappearance spread through the entire family of broadcasters like wildfire: "Larry is dead! ", “Mister Lawrence Atiase is gone!". Then, there was pain and dismay at the deceased's home in Dakar.

However, on May 10, the one who ruled the African Union of Broadcasting from 2006 to 2015 would have celebrated his 71st birthday, surrounded by his family he loved so much, but fate decided otherwise.

Defeated by the disease, Lawrence Atiase gave up the ghost on April 08, 2020 at the Dakar Main Hospital. The audiovisual professionals who knew him would have liked to be present at his funeral, alas! In view of the global health context marked by the meteoric spread of the Coronavirus, which imposes unparalleled confinement and closure of borders, it is impossible for them to make the trip to Dakar, the city which saw him coming

some thirty years ago.

He was buried in strict family intimacy at the Saint-Lazare cemetery in Senegal, two days after his death. Despite the drastic displacement measures in force, the AUB sent a limited mission to convey the message of condolences of the President of the Executive Council, Ms. Keitirele Mathapi and that of the Director General of the AUB, Mr. Grégoire Ndjaka, to the family of the deceased.

Also, despite the remoteness, those who have known him during his years of service take him to heart. This is evidenced by the many messages of support reaching the Directorate General of the Union, from all over the world.

Tributes from the World Broadcasting Union

Writing on behalf of the World Broadcasting Unions and my own Union, the North America Broadcasters Association, Michael McEwen, President-in-Office of the World Broadcasting Union said: “Lawrence was a leader in bringing African broadcasters together and sharing their issues with his colleagues around the world. His gift was finding a consensus on shared issues and then implementing that consensus to the benefit of all AUB members. Under his leadership the AUB became an important contributor to the interests and well-being of its broadcast membership”.

"It is with great sadness that I welcome the news of Larry's death. He was a close friend of ours. To his wife, his children, Mr. Grégoire Ndjaka and as well as to the Secretariat of the AUB, I express my sincere condolences ", said Dr. Javad Mottaghi, Secretary General of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ASBU).

“Our thoughts are with his family he cherished so much. Larry had the subtle art of teaching us to do a lot with so little. To his wife and children, I would like to say that I share their grief at the moment and assure them of my most affectionate feelings. May my prayers be with them, "said Mr. Tewfik Khelladi, former Chairman of the EBU Executive Council.

"I am particularly saddened because I had to work closely with him at the very beginning of the transition from URTNA to AUB. He encouraged us not to give up on the Union during these difficult times "Emmanuel Wongibe, Deputy Director General of CRTV recalled.

Abderrahmane Khodja, AUB focal point at the Algerian EPTV, remembers the deceased in these terms: “Larry has been my friend and colleague since 1983, the year he came to Algiers to participate as part of the URTNA. Since then, he has been involved in all the major challenges we have had to face, in particular that relating to the threat of the disappearance of our Union”.

Battle against high costs of broadcasting rights of sporting events

Born on May 12, 1949, Ghanaian-born Lawrence Atiase spent about thirty years of his life serving the Union, first as an URTNA officer, then as the AUB CEO. Former Translator-Interpreter and Coordinator of URTNA Programs and Activities, he became, by his abnegation, Executive Director from 2002 to 2005. He served as interim before being appointed CEO in 2006.

Concordant sources attest that he transformed the AUB by giving it a new status which enabled the enlargement of the members of the Union. As Managing Director, he strengthened the partnership with the sister Unions. He is credited with having tactfully organized the 5th World Electronic Media Forum (WEMF 5) in 2011. Thanks to the support of UNESCO, he launched two major projects, namely the African Observatory audiovisual (OAA) and Gender Sensitive Indicators for the Media (GSIM) to promote the participation of African women in the audiovisual sector.

Couple of years ago, he actively took part in the creation of the African Technical Committee with the African Union (AU) and the African Telecommunications Union (UAT) with the aim of supporting African countries in the digital transition and the spectrum management in Africa.

It was with courage that he positioned URTNA first and then AUB in the field of sport. This earned the AUB the signature in 2009 of the first strategic agreement with FIFA for the acquisition of match rights for the 2010 and 2014 Football World Cup. He has always invested in defending exorbitant costs of the broadcasting rights of sporting events, notably football, a battle fought relentlessly by his successor, Grégoire Ndjaka.

Although retired, he remained in harmony with the large AUB family. In February 2017, on the occasion of the AUB 10th anniversary, a vibrant tribute was paid to him at the King Fahd Palace hotel in Dakar.

Lawrence Atiase leaves a grieving widow, children and a considerable number of broadcasters who would still have liked to benefit from his rich audiovisual experience.


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