A Dream for My Daughter

By Al-Sakkaf, Nadia | Newsweek, October 17, 2011 | Go to article overview
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A Dream for My Daughter


Al-Sakkaf, Nadia, Newsweek


Byline: Nadia Al-Sakkaf

Where the explosions she hears are fireworks, not gunfire.

Fighting has escalated in Yemen since the return in late September of the badly wounded President Ali Abdullah Saleh, ready, he says, to cede power. Nadia Al-Sakkaf, editor in chief and publisher of the Yemen Times, is committed to objective reporting--and to raising a daughter bewilderingly surrounded by the sights and sounds of her country veering toward civil war.

They say the first thought that enters your head in the morning defines your day. My first thoughts are two questions: Do I hear shelling? And is there electricity? Usually the answers are yes and no, respectively.

We have all gotten used to planning our day around electrical power, or rather the lack of it, just as we've come to terms with the fact that there is trouble in some parts of town where supposedly peaceful protesters are being met with live bullets.

People like me are also accustomed to getting to work through multiple checkpoints, maybe a ragged security man with his khat-swollen cheek and a rifle loosely hanging over his shoulder. Usually, it helps being a woman since the system seems to believe a woman can do no harm.

As the female head of an independent newspaper for the last six years, I had to learn to manage Yemeni men, who've been raised on the concept that the male is supreme. Once we got over that, the real challenges began.

When I arrive at the office, we do a head count: who has made it that day and who hasn't. Some of our reporters live in conflict areas, and sometimes roads are blocked. We try to cover all happenings, but mainly rely on contacts in conflict areas since I don't believe a news scoop is worth a reporter's life. There is always someone we know living in the street where the shelling took place, or we know someone who knows the man who was shot in the chest.

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