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The AIBs



Abdul Rahman Ramadhan started work in 1980. It wasn’t

a typical career for someone living in Nairobi’s Kibera

slum. He graduated from the local madrasa and chose the

profession of sound, landing a job at the Camerapix news

agency run by Mohamed Amin in the Kenyan capital.

He honed his skills on the job, working with the standard

location sound kit of the time – a Nagra reel-to-reel tape

recorder. Those skills, which would be developed over

the following three and a half decades, have brought the

world sound from across Africa.

For Abdul has recorded the sound that has accompanied

TV news reports from many of Africa’s most troubled

places and challenging events. His first truly dangerous

assignment was the civil war in Sudan in 1992. This

was the first war zone that the young sound man had

experienced. Along with the other Camerapix team

members, Abdul dodged bullets from soldiers and bombs

dropped from Antonov planes. He slept among the dead

to avoid detection.

Soon after, he accompanied Mo Amin to Ethiopia which

was in the grip of the worst famine to hit the country in

a century. It was the pictures and sound captured by Mo

Amin and Abdul for the BBC and other organisations of

the plight of tens of thousands of starving people which

led to the establishment of Live Aid. Bob Geldof saw the

report that Michael Buerk filed for the BBC and was so

moved that he organised Band Aid that recorded the

global hit “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, followed in

1985 by Live Aid.

In 1994, with his wife pregnant with their second child,

Abdul was sent by Mo Amin to Rwanda where the

genocide had started. There Abdul and the Camerapix

team witnessed many of the atrocities that occurred

during the 100 days of the genocide. In Somalia, it was

just one killing a day, Abdul recounts. In Rwanda, Abdul

saw gangs killing ten people or more at a time, all in the

most horrific ways.

He’s covered stories in his native Kenya, too, including

the election violence in 2008. The two main tribes in the

country fought running battles and up to 1,500 people

died in the violence, with half a million or more displaced.

Abdul was on hand, recording the sounds of battle on his

own home turf.

Abdul Rahman Ramadhan

Abdul is sanguine about the risks to his own life, saying

that when his time is up, that’s just the way it is, however

his life should end.

His wife supports him, despite not knowing if Abdul will

come back from his latest assignment. She knows that

capturing the sound that tells the most important stories

is in Abdul’s blood, and that it is far more than just a job.

Sound is Abdul’s passion. Over the past 35 years, he has

brought us some of the most momentous moments from

Africa’s recent history.

Abdul shows no sign of hanging up his microphone. The

Association for International Broadcasting is proud to

recognise the work that Abdul has undertaken to help

bring us the stories from Africa that need to be told. The

AIB Founders Award pays tribute to a remarkable man –

the Sound Man Abdul Rahman Ramadhan.