Najma Sadeqi, a 20-year-old YouTuber, sat on her bed four days after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and recorded a final video for her tens of thousands of followers.
Her posts would usually show her cooking or exploring Kabul with her friends, dressed brightly and with upbeat music playing in the background. The disgruntled expression on Sadeqi’s face told viewers that this one was different even before she started speaking.
“Since we are not allowed to work and go out of our homes, we all had to record you a last video,” she began. “And through this video say goodbye to you all.”
She told viewers she was too scared to walk the street, and asked them to pray for her. “Life in Kabul has become very difficult, especially for those who used to be free and happy,” she said. “I wish it is a bad dream, I wish we can wake up one day,” she added, stopping at times to stifle tears. “But I know that it is not possible …. and it is a reality that we are finished.”
Sadeqi was killed in a terror attack near Kabul’s international airport a few days later, according to two of her coworkers. At least 170 Afghans were killed in the massacre while desperately trying to flee the country.
Sadeqi was in his final year of study at a Kabul journalism school. She had recently joined the Afghan Insider YouTube channel, which has over 24 million views on its videos. They provided weekly glimpses into the lives of young content creators who had grown up in the post-Taliban era of relative safety. They also enabled Sadeqi and others to provide for their families while pursuing their own goals.
“I was working to make enough to pay for my daily expenses and for my education,” Sadeqi said in her last video. “Most of the families in the city are just waiting for (one) meal for the day to survive now.”
Her death has shook a large community of young YouTubers who have benefited from the freedoms granted to Afghans in the two decades since the Taliban regime was deposed, many of whom do not remember life before 9/11.
It also gave her final video, an emotional eight-minute farewell to those who had watched her work, a heartbreaking new meaning. “Greetings, friends! We have both been affected mentally and have become physically vulnerable “she stated Sadeqi used to co-host videos with her friend Rohina Afshar, but they were forced to record their final messages separately for fear of being forced to leave their homes.