“Good morning dear children. My name is George Alagiah and I am a journalist working for the BBC. I came here today to share the experiences I had in Somalia, during the civil war between the end of 1991 and December 1992.
According to me, journalists are the most lucky people on Earth. They are the ones experiencing the joys of the people worldwide and they do the honourable task of sharing their experiences to the public to make them aware of the situation around the globe. I had the chance to be among those privileged men and had the task to report on the plight of the Somalians following the civil war which engulfed their country.
As I crissed-crossed Somalia in the research of sensational news, I encountered thousands of lean, scared and betrayed faces. Everyday, I saw people suffering and dying from lack of medical assistance and famine. There, death is but a deliverance from the state of half-life the Somalians are going through.
I also reported on a mother going in search of food for her family. But on her return she found the lifeless body of her child, which she resigned herself to without a moan.
If one ever stepped into a hut, one would see elderly persons, left behind by their families which have left in their survival search, slowly dying of agony, recycling putrid air through their lungs due to the lack of medical care. Unable to move because of either a shattered leg which has started rotting or simply having nowhere to go. One can observe slow death approaching through their sick, yellow eyes and the struggling breath against death.
Many of them were dying a slow death suffering from the pangs of hunger and diseases, including wounds inflicted by retreating soldiers of the deposed dictator.
Seeing all this and given the lack of international solidarity to assist, I was filled with revulsion. Even though I encountered this desolate scene on a daily basis which did not appall me anymore, I could not stay indifferent to the meekness of the developed world. The degeneration of the human body by the evils of hunger and diseases is something disgusting that can be felt but not conveyed on TV reports.
I could also not subside the feeling of pity and respect for these voiceless victims as even in this dire state, they aspired to a dignity almost impossible to achieve. The old woman would cover her frail body with a soiled cloth when anyone gazed at her and the old dying man would keep his hoe next to the mat that would become his shroud as if he meant to go out and till the soil once all this suffering would end. Those people were so embarrassed to be found in such a condition that they gave me a wry smile. That smile turned the tables and the tacit agreement on the relationship between the active journalist and the passive subject. ie the dying person, becomes a reversible one.
Therefore my lasting impression on Somalia is a vision of famine away from the headlines, a famine of quiet suffering and lonely death fueled by the rift between rich and poor.
My dear children, you are the leaders of tomorrow and I came to warn you of the inequality that prevails in this world so that you might be aware of it and prepare yourselves to make the world a better place for all. Always remember not to indulge in destruction and remain modest and look after your fellow beings in difficulty. This is why I wanted to talk to you, to advise you on the conduct you should adopt and be sensitive to these deplorable happenings. I have great expectations for you and hope that you will do what is best. I thus take leave from you and say from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for listening to me.”