Four days after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, 20-year-old YouTuber Najma Sadeqi sat on her bed and recorded a final video to tens of thousands of followers.
Usually, her posts would show her cooking or exploring Kabul alongside her friends, in bright clothes and with cheerful music playing in the background. But before Sadeqi even began speaking, the dispirited expression on her face told viewers that this one was different.
“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.”
Days later, Sadeqi was killed in a terror attack outside Kabul’s international airport, two of her colleagues told CNN. At least 170 Afghans died in the atrocity, while trying desperately to flee the country.
Sadeqi was in the final year of study at a journalism institute in Kabul. She had recently joined the Afghan Insider YouTube channel, whose videos have amassed more than 24 million views. They gave weekly glimpses into the lives of young content creators, who had been raised amid the relative safety of a post-Taliban age. They also allowed Sadeqi and others to support their families, while following their own aspirations.