“An inspiration and an example particularly for the younger generation of journalists.”-
by Rafaela Prifti-
On September 18, a memorial ceremony was held in Kosova’s capital to honor the life and work of Sulejman Gashi, one of the best known and respected Albanian-American professional journalists whose career stretched over two decades, who passed away at 61. A week earlier from the service, Drilon Gashi, surviving son, announced the passing of his father, stating that the burial will take place in his home country, Kosova. Four years ago, while on a contracting assignment in Salt Lake City, Utah, Sulejman suffered a cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma. His departure saddened relatives, colleagues, friends, community members around the world.
On behalf of the Pan-Albanian Federation of America Vatra, Executive Council, Board of Directors, branches and all members, President Elmi Berisha expressed condolences to the Gashi family. He said that Sulejman Gashi was an exemplary reporter, intelligent mind and patriot who loved his country dearly.
As per Drilon’s announcement, the burial of Sulejman Gashi took place in his native Kosova, and the memorial service was held a few days later. Government officials, public figures, colleagues, relatives, representatives of religious communities gathered to remember his lifework. In his remarks, Kosova’s Prime Minister Hoti praised his efforts aiming towards an independent state of Kosova: “Sulejman Gashi was a well-known name in journalism in Prishtina, especially in Radio Television of Prishtina, and later as a RTK correspondent from the United States of America. I and all of us, especially remember his reporting from New York, covering the news from Washington, and round the world. Thus, he belonged to the generation of journalists, publicists and intellectuals of a specific time for Kosovo who took on the burden of the journey of creating an independent state of Kosovo, initially facing the Yugoslav regime violations of rights and freedoms of Albanians in the former Yugoslavia. Those were extraordinary circumstances and Syla, together with the colleagues of that time, knew how to best articulate the interests of the Albanians in Kosovo and to defend them before the democratic centres all over the world.” In the end, Prime Minister Hoti made a pledge of fulfill” as soon as possible, the goals of Sulejman and his generation, for a fully integrated Kosovo in the large family of advanced countries of Euro-Atlantic civilization.”
Drilon’s touching eulogy described how his father’s voice and image came on the TV screen as a war reporter and how people in coffee shops and public places would freeze to watch him. The quality of his reporting and its delivery were Sulejman’s gift to us. Drawing on his decades long substantive work, the Speaker of the Assembly Vjosa Osmani called Mr. Gashi “the voice of hope from the place of hope”. Other speakers remarked that Sulejman will be an inspiration and an example for the younger generations, especially for those who inspire to be journalists.
Albin Kurti, leader of LVV, noted that “he was known by three names: Sulejman Gashi, Syla, Sal Gashi, one for each of his functions: a professional, a dear friend and colleague, and devoted Albanian-American patriot. Just as learning does not happen without a teacher, and any trade requires a master, so did our first US tour need a mentor, Syla was our guide.” For years, Sulejman alternated journalism work with State Department linguistic contracting. In his tribute, Albin Kurti called Sulejman “a de facto ambassador of our country and our people. He will always “be the Albanian in America overseas and also be America inside his Albanian heart. “
The Association of Kosova Journalists honoured the colleague’s work and contribution to the profession. Through the end of 1990s , Mr. Gashi was a correspondent for Bujk, Kosova Information Center and other outlets His reporting career at TV Prishtina was interrupted, as well as many of his Albanian colleagues there, when the Serbian authorities shut down the medium and Rilindja newspaper in July 1990. He and his family migrated to the United States. A year later, Sulejman Gashi was a founding journalist and editor of “Illyria” newspaper launched with two main commitments: independence for Kosova and democracy for Albania. His legacy will be the love for his family, his homeland and humanity in general.