Alfred Olango’s Celebration of Life

Photos Nadin and Tom Abbott

Video Tom Abbott

Editor’s note: We cropped family and attendees out of the frame in the photos out of respect for the family, and only showed the speakers. This event was co-sponsored by the Partnership for New Americans.

Oct 8, 2016 (San Diego) Alfred Olango, who died a week ago during a police action in El Cajon, was laid to rest this morning in a private ceremony. This afternoon there was a celebration of his life at the East African Community Center in City Heights, which was open to the public. The event was extremely well attended, with a crowd of over 200 people. They came to listen to speakers share their experience with Alfred, and to his father Richard Abuka Olango, his cousin and his brotherJeffrey.

Other notables in the community also spoke, Among them Ahmed Sahid, President of the Somali Family Center and Dr Joachim Reinman. There was a sense of sadness, as well as the coming struggle for justice and reform. Jeffrey thanked everybody “for being here to celebrate the life of Albert. This would not have been possible,” if the community did not put this together.

Jeffrey spoke of how he is still in disbelief that his brother is no longer around, and how he will have to go back to living. He added, “you being here today, continues to lift up our souls. You have to understand, I still do not understand why I am here talking to you guys.” He also spoke of how this is not real to him yet, but that eventually they will have to remember Alfred, but also go back to work. “My healing process has just started.”

His father, Richard Abuka Olango, said that the struggle will continue, the struggle for justice. He also said that this will be a peaceful struggle. He also said that “our police force has to go back to training.” He also said that we do not need militarized police in the streets. Moreover, he also said that we need to seek justice.  “Alfred’s death is going to be a changing point in the United States.”

Richard also added, that “his death has shaken the whole world.” (Editor’s note, while in Mexico City this death was a topic of conversation in Mexican media.) Richard added, “something is wrong in America. America is supposed to be a leader nation.It is the leader of the free world. And if something like this happens in the country considered to be the leader of the free world it means something is wrong somewhere.”

There pain in the community, as well as confusion to a point. Most came to the United States as refugees, and as one of the speakers said, what happened in El Cajon, they would expect in Kampala, not in this country. Richard said regarding the struggle to change these matters: “We are going to succeed.” He also said that there are plans in the works for a march to demand change next week at Balboa Park. He and other community leaders also urged community members to register and vote. As we came in, there were voter registration forms on the table.

We are embedding the video, of the community leaders and family speaking. It is close to 20 minutes.

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