Sputnik Kilambi

Former Knight International Journalism Fellow, Ghana and Rwanda

Sputnik Kilambi was a tireless and passionate journalist who trained and inspired hundreds of others to use the media to improve people’s lives and advance social justice.

A veteran broadcaster, she worked in Africa, Asia and Europe covering wars and humanitarian crises and interviewing analysts who could provide insights into world events and global issues. She also trained teams of journalists dedicated to journalistic excellence and promoting peace in countries wracked by poverty and war.

Born in India, Kilambi spent her final years working with journalists in Africa, challenging them to be the best they could. She was a Knight International Journalism Fellow in Rwanda and Ghana, and worked with UN Radio in Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone.

In Ghana in 2011, she trained and mentored journalists at Joy FM, one of Ghana’s leading English-language radio stations, to create in-depth features on social issues, economic development and poverty. The award-winning “Hotline” show they produced set a new standard for radio in Ghana. Kilambi and another Knight Fellow who preceded her at the station put the popular show on a path to sustainability.

She headed the UN Radio UNOCI FM in Ivory Coast from 2004 to 2006 at a time when the “peace frequency” as it was known was the only radio that reached both sides of the political divide.

From 2009 to 2010, Kilambi was chief of UN Radio in Sierra Leone, where she worked as radio manager and trainer, supervised a staff of 25 and helped in the transition to the country’s first independent public broadcaster, a merger of UN Radio and the former national broadcaster. In 2007 and 2008, she was a Knight Fellow in Rwanda, where she trained radio journalists and helped create a tri-lingual news and features program at Contact FM, a leading private radio station in Rwanda.

Kilambi worked for more than 10 years at Radio France International as a producer and presenter of news and features programs as well as documentaries on the humanitarian fallout from the conflicts in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Colombia in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In 2000 Kilambi worked with Hirondelle, a Swiss media non-governmental organization, where she helped set up the first multi-ethnic radio in post-war Kosovo and then worked for the United Nations Radio there. She then freelanced for various European and American radio stations, reporting on socio-economic and political issues. She also reported from India on the regional fall-out from the September 11 tragedy in 2001, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the conflict over Kashmir.

Kilambi held a master’s degree and a pre-doctoral degree in Ethnology and Comparative Sociology from the University of Nanterre, France.

She died from a brain hemorrhage on July 8, 2013 shortly after completing her final assignment with the International Center for Journalists – as an instructor for a six-week online course for 70 African journalists. She was 55.