Coursemates, friends and family of student Mohamed Hashim Mattar gathered for a memorial service at Brunel University London on 3 December to mark six months since he was killed in Sudan.
Mattar, an engineer who was studying at London Brunel International College (LBIC), was shot by security forces at a peaceful sit-in demonstration outside the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum, at dawn on 3 June – a day after his 26th birthday.
Although he was just one of at least 100 people who died in protests in the African country that week, Mattar's favourite colour blue has lent a colour to the revolution demanding armed forces hand power over to a civilian administration, and the widely used hashtag #BlueForSudan.
His parents had travelled from Sudan to Uxbridge for the service, held outdoors in the centre of campus and attended by over 150 people who knew him or had been touched by his legacy.
Mattar had died while attempting to shield two women from harm, and at the service his friend Dinan spoke of how such kindness was second nature to him: "He went out of his way to help people who needed help. Whenever he could spare someone pain, he did everything he could to do that." Dinan added that the last time she had spoken to Mattar before he died, he had told her "he had realised there wasn't a problem in this world that kindness can't fix".
The service – which was filled with tributes, poems, music, open letters and prayer – highlighted that Mattar's death had not only brought the Sudanese people and diaspora closer in solidarity with their country, but also many others across the continent. While the service took place, further protests sparked across Sudan.
"Mattar made me realise that these ideals that we are fighting for may not be changes that we will ever experience or enjoy in our lifetime," his friend Zeena said to the crowd. "This should not stop us. The love that he had for his country and his people, and for peace and justice around the world, is so strong that the world had to know. He would not stop showing us until we listened. But we cannot afford to just listen."
His father, Hashim Mattar, spoke of how Mattar's dream was to get a Master's degree in the UK, and that Brunel was the perfect first step on his journey. "The few months he was here brought him so much happiness and satisfaction," he said. "He would always call me and tell me of the great life that he lived here. Although he was only here for a short period of time, this university had a great influence on him."
For his mother, Amria Kabous, Mattar's choice of blue for his favourite colour – part of his influence on the world – was not random, and was instead a result of his fondness for looking up at the sky, ever since he was a small boy. "Just a day before he died, I found him sitting on the ground and it started raining, and he was looking at the sky with a smile." And she remarked how blue is the colour of rain, which is what the name Mattar means.
Other elements of Mattar's legacy include charities set up in his name, and a street named after him in Khartoum. "I pray that you never forget him, his name and his history," his mother concluded, "and never forget the sacrifice that he made."
Joe Buchanunn, Media Relations
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