Farewell, Femi

It's been a little over a day since the Sukhoi Superjet-100 went missing over the skies of Bogor, and the news since then has been nothing but gloom. About 50 were on board, and it appears none survived as the Russian-made plane hit the side of Mount Salak.

Each of those lives taken was a life taken too soon. Good times never had. Old age never reached. Proper goodbyes never said.

There was one name on the list of passengers that was familiar to me. Femi Adi from Bloomberg News (listed as Femi, but it has been confirmed that it is her) was a young journalist I met last May while observing a prayer rally organised in Jakarta by the Islamic Defenders Front to mourn the death of Osama bin Laden.

It was a fairly tense affair, with nearly a thousand slightly-riled, white-robed men crammed into a mosque to listen to speakers stoking their anger over the death of bin Laden. Clustered outside the back of the hall were me and more than a dozen journalists, mostly Indonesians with a handful from overseas.

I must have appeared a little bewildered by what I saw, because Femi approached me and said hello. She asked me where I was from and what I was doing there, and I answered and asked her the same. She then offered to translate some of the firebrand speeches for me, helping me to make sense of what was going on.

After a brief lull in proceedings, there was an announcement. She tugged at my shirt and said, "Come on, they're going to hold a press conference." The idea of extremists holding a press conference seemed strange to me, but emboldened by her confidence I wandered forward with the other journalists.

A microphone was offered to the journalists, and most of us were reluctant to speak up. But not Femi. She happily grabbed it, introduced herself by name and by organisation (there would be few more identifiably American news brands than Bloomberg, so it was an especially bold move) and proceeded to ask a question. I'm not sure what she asked, but she was impressive in her bravado.

Afterwards we swapped contact details and exchanged a few emails, including one in which I asked if she knew of any job opportunities.

There was nothing especially poetic in what either of us wrote via email, but just rereading her words today it struck me that they capture some of the joie de vivre she demonstrated in person:

Hi Ari

---Your name looks so-Indonesian. :) ---

Its nice to meet you too in the FPI event, Ari. I quit shortly after things done. :)

I have read your blog. Its a nice blog with informal writings wrapping the great content. I like it. :) I also have a blog, femiadi.com, but it is not as good as your blog. It's just a daily-life-stories about corkscrew, travels, friendship, etc.

So, you leave ossie to stay with your partner and work in Indonesia? That's amazing! I will let you know if any media needs a journalist. I have been working in Jakarta since 2003 for Kontan newspaper. My hometown is in Yogyakarta. I moved to Bloomberg since last year.

Let me know if you have some time for having coffee or beer. I have to go out to the south jakarta court for abu bakar bashir trial.

femi adi

Sadly I never did take up the offer of a coffee or beer, and now it seems the chance has gone forever.

Bodies are still being pulled from the rubble, and so far no individuals have been confirmed as among the dead. So there's always a chance of a miracle.

I didn't know Femi well, but in this brief tribute online at Republika, she is described as gentle, kind and friendly. Sounds just like the person I'd met.

She was also very lively online, operating a blog at femiadi.com and being active on a swag of social media sites.

Farewell, Femi. The world's a poorer place without you.


cyn said…
Hi Ari,

It’s a nice and thoughtful story :-)
Foolish me, still waiting for the news of Femi's whereabouts.
Keeping my expectation high until every single thing is revealed.
So it's not a farewell yet to me, at least not now.

But your story reminds me of how wonderful Fey is, that's what I use to call her. Gentle, friendly and fearless!

Thank you for sharing.
Ari Sharp said…
Hi Cyn,

Thanks for your message. It would be wonderful for Femi and the others to somehow return, but the prospects are slim.

So glad to hear there are others with similar memories of her.

Stay strong,

Su said…
Hi Ari,
Femi was my former colleague. The last time I met her was in Aug before I moved back to SG. Thanks for penning your memories of her.
Cyn, you are not foolish. Miracles can happen, let's all pray for her, wherever she may be. I know her friends all over the world are doing the same.
She's a wonderful, thoughtful, diligent and committed person. So fearless and full of zest!

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