r.i.p. sultan munadi – reflections on the loss of ‘an afghan striver’

sultan munadi
(died sept. 8th, 2009 – konduz, afghanistan)

the times has two must-read stories about the tragic loss on sept 8th this week of sultan munadi:

the reporter’s account: 4 days with the taliban on at war blog

david rohde’s piece on sultani munadi

both accounts depict the portrait of a man whose loss is a blow to the future of this country by any account -but above all, the stories do justice to this particular person by depicting his humanity, a dimension of the afghan character mostly glazed over in western reporting that generally objectify and patronize and speak for their characters.

i feel deeply saddened and as if i have lost a next of kin, a brother in this common struggle to make this country a more humane place to live. munadi was part of this generation of us who have seen what was, and have high hopes of what should be. the generation that grew up in war and turmoil, that straddled the pre and post 9/11 periods of this country; in a way, the 9/11 generation of afghanistan. and within this generation, part of an even more committed group who have -perhaps too obstinately, too unreasonably- made a committment that they will stay, they will not leave this country, despite the oppotunities. munadi represented the best and most hopeful of this group of ‘afghan strivers’ -and in this own craft ‘munadi’ embodied the meaning of his surname -a loudspeaker for the truth, the instrument without which many a western journalist’s account of this country would be incomplete.

snippets from the reporting:

mr. farrell’s account of the last moments of their captivity:

…it was Sultan, in the last minute of his life. He held out a hand, steadied me and asked if I had my contact lenses in, which I had. With him already in front we crouch-ran along a very narrow ledge of earth — less than a foot wide — along the outer wall of the compound.


There was a burst of gunfire and he went down immediately. In the dark, with firing all around, trees everywhere and my view obscured by him and the wall, I did not know whether the bullets came from in front, to his right or to his left.

It was over. Sultan was dead. He had died trying to help me, right up to the very last seconds of his life.

* * *
from david rohde’s reporting

The death of Mr. Munadi illustrated two grim truths of the war in Afghanistan: vastly more Afghans than foreigners have died battling the Taliban, and foreign journalists are only as good as the Afghan reporters who work with them.

“They serve as our walking history books, political analysts,” he added, “managers of logistics, taking equal the risks without equal the glory or pay.”

-or security concerns, one might add, as it often tragically turns out.

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~ by safrang on September 10, 2009.

2 Responses to “r.i.p. sultan munadi – reflections on the loss of ‘an afghan striver’”

  1. “…it was Sultan, in the last minute of his life. He held out a hand, steadied me and asked if I had my contact lenses in, which I had. With him already in front we crouch-ran along a very narrow ledge of earth — less than a foot wide — along the outer wall of the compound.”

    Ugh –tears my heart out. I had a good cry reading the remembrances piece.

    So often we don’t even have a name, let alone a kind face or a whole personal history, to put with the death of an Afghan journalist or aidworker.

  2. […] of Sultan Munadi Jump to Comments As usual, Hamesha puts the armchair Afghanistan bloggers  to shame. I feel deeply saddened and as if  I have lost a next of kin, a brother in this common struggle to […]

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