Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Fighting Extremism through Cultural Activities

As fragile security situation is dominating Afghan society, it is really important for Afghans to keep their spirits high and stand strong against such a situation. Their high spirits to fight violence, extremism and war would prove to be a catalyst that can speed up the process of development and peace building. They can also counter extremism and violence through promoting positive activities in the society that should have aesthetic aspects and that may have the potential to promote entertainment and hope. Cultural activities, mostly the ones related to music can be of great support.
Afghan society is a society that is filled with people who have had different cultural traditions. People belonging to different ethnic groups reside here and all of them have had a long history of traditions and values. Unfortunately, their lives have been dominated by instability; therefore, they have not been able to promote those values to a great extent. However, after decades of wars as the circumstances have improved a little, they can at least divert their attentions towards promoting their cultural practices. This will help them not only in highlighting the beauty of their cultural practices but would also prove to be a strong force against negative activities. Prioritizing such activities would definitely generate an atmosphere wherein the people, particularly, the youngsters would be motivated towards them instead of becoming the part of terrorism and other social evils.
One of the cultural items that have been part of Afghan society is music. It has existed within Afghan culture in some form or the other. Though different ethnic groups present in Afghan society have had their own types of music and their own festivals to enjoy it, the love for music has always been there. During somewhat stable eras, the national music in Afghanistan flourished to a certain extent and those times also gave birth to some prominent names as well. Among them the names of Saraban, Nashanas, Ahmed Zahir, Ahmad Wali, Hungama, Beltoon, Farhad Darya, Dawood Sarkhosh, Amir Jan Sabori and Najim Nawabi are the most prominent ones.
Unfortunately, there have been many hurdles in the way of promotion of this cultural item – it has been victimized by the extremist religious thoughts and practices. On many occasions the extremist fanatics have tried to discourage it as much as possible. Particularly, Taliban put a ban against all sorts of music and even banned televisions. During their tenure, music in Afghanistan suffered to a great extent.
However, nowadays it can be observed that it is once again being promoted by young and energetic Afghan artists. They are trying to mix modern music with traditional Afghan music. They are, in fact, doing a service to Afghan culture and society, therefore, they should be encouraged and promoted as much as possible. Doing so would not only divert the attention of Afghan youth towards constructive cultural activities but would also support in promoting Afghan music throughout the world keeping in consideration the approach of today’s media; particularly social media.
One of the current efforts to promote Afghan music within Afghanistan is being led by Afghan National Music Institute. The institute has really made some remarkable endeavors to revive Afghan music and bring about modern trends within it as well. It, on Wednesday, December 28, launched its seventh winter music festival where students and musicians from around the country would be trained for eight weeks in preparation for concerts. The head of the institute, Nasir Sarmast, said that they would send a group of 35 female musicians to Europe where they will play traditional music of Afghanistan. They would hold concerts in Zurich, Geneva (Switzerland) and then in Germany. And later, they would return home.
This will provide them an opportunity to let those countries, their people and the Afghan people living there enjoy Afghan music and know more about it. This will further support in cultural exchange programs and initiatives. Ultimately, there will be more entertainment and learning for all the cultures involved.
It is also vital to observe that the institute, in a manner, is developing Afghanistan’s human resource. Music is an art and also a skill. It can support those who are involved in it financially as well. They can make their living by playing different instruments and by singing. Thus, those who have interest in music can satiate their thirst for music and at the same time make a reputable earning for themselves.
Rahil Mohammad Formuli, deputy head of vocational studies at Ministry of Education currently revealed that National Music Institute has a good criterion and at least 50 percent of its students are street children. Moreover, it can be observed that most of these students want to pursue a profession in music in future. Most of them have the intention of completing their formal education in music and then develop their careers accordingly.
Keeping in view the importance of music and the cultural activities it is imperative that government must also be active in this regard and encourage such initiatives by providing them moral and financial support.