Obituary: Kate Peyton

BBC producer with a love of Africa

THE BBC producer Kate Peyton was one of those rare individuals in the media world whose professional talent was matched by an extraordinary gift for kindness and friendship. Her death as the result of a shooting incident in Somalia this week has robbed Africa of one of its most compassionate observers and her family and friends of a person of matchless warmth.

She had gone to the Somali capital Mogadishu to report on that country's nascent peace process and was standing outside a hotel popular with politicians and journalists when she was murdered. Her brief in Somalia was to record the first signs of hope in that country's recent tragic history. Kate Peyton was a journalist of wide experience, having worked not only in African conflict zones but in the Middle East as well. She was not a risk- taker or a glory-seeker.

Katherine Mary Peyton was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in 1965, the daughter of Leslie and Angela Peyton. Her father died in 1978 in a road accident. Kate was educated at Sicklesmere and Culford Schools in Suffolk before going on to study Civil Engineering at Manchester University. However, while at university she found herself increasingly drawn to books and journalism and resolved to make a career as a producer in broadcasting.

On leaving university she got her first job, at BBC Radio Suffolk, and also worked at Radio Merseyside and GMR. Her long-term ambition as a young radio producer was eventually to work in South Africa, a country she had first visited with her family in 1979. Throughout her life she kept in close contact with her South African cousins and it was through them that she developed a deep understanding of the country and its problems.

She finally moved to South Africa to work in the 1990s, firstly for the South African Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC as a freelance producer. She was eventually appointed to the post of Africa Producer for the BBC early in the new millennium. It was a job she relished and did with enthusiasm and passion. She covered many of the major stories of recent years, including the emerging Aids crisis in South Africa, the disaster of the Mozambique floods and the humanitarian emergency of Darfur.

It was in her ability to empathise with Africa's dispossessed and oppressed that Kate Peyton shone. She was always the member of the production team who went back to offer help and kind words to those whose often tragic stories we told.

In her private life she had recently found happiness with her partner Roger Koy and his eight-year-old daughter Chloe. Roger worked as a news cameraman in Africa and Kate had taken on the task of looking after Chloe at her home in Johannesburg.

One of my lasting memories of Kate is of a lunch party at her house last autumn. In the garden, children were playing happily while Kate sat at the table more happy and relaxed than any of her friends could remember. Among those gathered were two African friends - one a Burundian refugee, the other a boy from South Africa's townships. She was helping both through their education and provided constant emotional support. She was a person of consistency as well as generosity.

Kate had wide and varied interests. She sang in a choir in Johannesburg and loved music of all kinds, particularly the vibrant music of the African townships. She also selected African art and painted pottery which was displayed in the always welcoming sitting room of her home. When not "on the road" in Africa, she loved to relax in her garden or to make clothes for her friends and their children.

Kate Peyton loved the continent of Africa and gave more to its children than any other journalist I have known. For her to be murdered in Africa is the most bitter injustice imaginable.

Our vision of Africa will be the poorer for not benefiting from Kate Peyton's eye, writes Alex Duval Smith. She brought to her journalism all her qualities as a human being - especially her intelligence and humility.

She was unusual in this profession because she was driven not by personal ambition but by a desire to understand humanity and a burning need to love it for all its faults. Kate was very clear about the concept that certain people were "important" or "special". It had nothing to do with rank or stature in society, it was a reflection on an individual's contribution to the world. She had ubuntu - that magical southern African concept, dear to Nelson Mandela, which means "I am what I am because I exist in relation to you".

Whenever I was in a dodgy place and Kate turned up, I would feel phew, it is going to be all right, because if it was really dangerous she wouldn't be here. That was a misguided thought - because she went to all the dangerous places - but she had this ability to instil calm in those around her. She had a down-to-earth nature that was incredibly appealing. And then she had this enormous laugh, which must have come from her singing ability, because it was much bigger than she was.

The work and the travel were never good for relationships but in Roger and his little girl, Chloe, who had just moved to Johannesburg and started school, Kate had found personal fulfilment. She was to have married Roger this year and it seems they had plans for a different, more settled existence. It feels terribly unfair that she should have died in Mogadishu, which was part of what was soon to be her old life.

Katherine Mary Peyton, journalist: born Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk 13 December 1965; Senior Producer, BBC Johannesburg Bureau 2002-05; died Mogadishu 9 February 2005.

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C#.NET VB6 Developer (Software Developer, Software Engineer)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C#.NET VB6 Developer (Software Developer, Softwa...

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition