What about the other victims, Mr. President? – UM

President Farmajo met with the children who survived the late Universal TV journalist Awil Dahir Salad. Photo: Villa Somalia

Mogadishu (UM) – The President met with the children who survived the late Universal TV journalist Awil Dahir Salad who was killed in the most recent terrorist attack last week near the National Theatre. The tragic loss was felt everywhere and all national and international news carried the story of the dead senior journalist. Awil was an exceptional journalist who earned the nations respect and admiration. His family, especially the children he left behind, should honour and remember him with pride. That the President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo, called them to personally convey his condolence is a sign of their father’s contribution to Somali journalism. Yet, famous or not, all victims of terrorism should be remembered equally.

With every explosion because of failed security policies, more victims are lost and simply forgotten. It is like they never existed. Awil would not have wanted those who suffered with him, soldiers, tea ladies, shoe shine boys, civil servants, all Somalis, to be forgotten and reduced to a meaningless statistic.

The memories and honour of the fallen are exchanged for a few photo opportunities at the highest levels in Somali politics. What use is ‘Is-Xilqan’ when we cannot even commemorate the courage and suffering of those who were brutally taken away from us only a few days before the Prime Minister visited the National Theatre, only a few meters away from the explosion site, with his high visibility vest and dark sunglasses? Is this a grave site or a movie set? Who will watch anything in the refurbished theatre when it is finished if our people are dying violently because of repetitive explosions and assassinations?

It is impossible to forget the story of Salado Hussein Nur who lost many of her relatives, including her older sister and husband, while working hard to make a small living from a dangerous checkpoint for over 10 years. Her tears on national television must move us all. She said God is Great despite her ordeal and this government must recognise her desperation and anger and support her beyond a few nice words. What about the respected educator and youth activist Faisal Salad Samow who lost his life in the second explosion and whose father and young brother were killed by Al-Shabaab? What about the welfare of the military families left behind? The President must meet with Salado and the survivors families and other victims to hear their stories. They are all tragic and painful and it is made worse by their invisibility because they are not famous. This is immoral and unacceptable.

Awil Dahir Salad was a decent man who will be missed dearly. In his last appearance he encouraged all Somalis to contribute to rebuilding their country and for the government to value its people individually. Awil loved Somalia. Therefore, he would not have accepted that he be remembered before all the other more vulnerable victims, including the staff that died with him in the same car and Salado’s sister.