Within the profession of journalist we monitor the tragedies of others under the pretext of news. This can be seen on this page, and on the next, until news about a dear friend and colleague reaches us, we then stand shocked and speechless, with nothing left but a memory.
Yesterday we lost our dear friend, the Sudanese journalist Hassan Satti. Readers of Asharq Al-Awsat will have known him because of his uniqueness, and his specializing in the excellent coverage of British National Archives, exploring the depths of the events which shaped the political history of our region.
Our colleague, Hassan Sati had the gift of being able to examine a mountain of archive documents and then transform them into a fascinating journalistic narrative. He also had the ability to write excellent profiles of political figures, especially African politicians, along with the skill to translate and summarize lengthy passages from important political books, which would then be published in the newspaper.
Hassan Sati, may he rest in peace, left our newspaper early this year returning to Sudan where he became chairman of a new Sudanese newspaper, while also continuing to work with us in covering British National Archive releases.
Abu Waddah, as Hassan Sati was nicknamed among us, was a journalist with an anxious manner, and an excellent sense of humor. Our debates would begin angrily, but end in laughter. It was difficult to establish rules of engagement when arguing with him, for he always surprised those around him. He did this one day when an Arab dignitary was visiting the newspaper causing all those present to fall silent, but that day passed peacefully.
There is a story I always tell friends regarding Abu Waddah, may he rest in peace. At the beginning of my tenure as editor of the newspaper when I had just met him and our relationship was still developing, he requested from me that he be given the opportunity to travel more, and attend events here and there. I told him that I would do my best, yet later that very same day I was surprised when he angrily stormed into my office, complaining that he had not been given adequate time to write a political profile he was assigned.
When I confirmed the profile’s deadline and insisted that it be done on time, he told me calmly, yet with his features promising of drama to come ‘Look sir, you are still young and have your whole life ahead of you…but you must know that I am a man who has suffered two heart attack!’
I almost burst out laughing, and I asked him just as calmly ‘Have you heard of US Vice-President Dick Cheney, Mr. Hassan?’
He answered quickly ‘Of course I have!’
I told him ‘Cheney has had three heart attacks, and is currently suffering from a fourth, yet he still continues to do his job, and so if you suffer from a third heart attack like him I promise to look into your work schedule again’
Upon hearing this he burst out angrily saying ‘What’s this…what’s this? You are a man who does not fear God!’ and left my office, but later that day he submitted an excellent profile, and after this encounter our relationship was one of great affection and respect, but not without disputes and laughter.
Despite his continual complaints of illness – he had several surgical operations, the last of which was an open-heart surgery- he neglected his own health. Yet he was a man who loved life with a big heart.
Hassan Sati, Abu Waddah, we bid you farewell. May you rest in peace in God’s mercy.