Odd as this may sound, there are some scholars who are researching the poetry of the Taliban. This excellent article /review of the book pictured above from the online journal Himal is worthy of being read.
I hesitated to upload this link or even refer to the fact that the Taliban might have some redeeming qualities, especially since I’ve spent some time in recent days participating in a round table titled, The Role of Afghan Women in Afghanistan Post 2014. A key theme, indeed, the very reason for the roundtable, which was hosted by the University of Melbourne (Australia), Oxfam, Amnesty International and the Afghan Australian Development Organisation (ADDO), was to address the existential fear of many (should I say most) Afghans about a return to a society dominated by the Taliban after the international forces retreat in 2014.
I’ve been in Afghanistan during the times of the Taliban and have no love for their grim, sterile, black and white vision of humanity, society or God. Like many at the conference this week, I sincerely hope the Afghan people are able to develop without a return to those dark years.
But curiosity and a sense (perhaps naive) of hope has made me return to Harmonium with a new post about this amazing (to be me at least) phenomenon. Poetry and Taliban are not two words that go easily or naturally together. Add to that poetry that is sung and it is even stranger. In the end, I decided to share this link and a sample of some of this poetry because Harmonium is all about South Asian music. Of all sorts. And by all kinds of ‘artists’.
I am aware (and not necessarily comfortable with) of the opening this gives to criticism that I am promoting the cruel and anachronistic. Giving air to a phenomenon that should be suffocated. I can understand that. But I am also sympathetic to the view that all views should be heard, and in this case, I think it is nothing short of remarkable that we are able to ‘listen’ into what the Taliban do when they are sitting around a campfire, far from home. These tarana give an insight into the ‘normal’ side of their psyche and suggest that perhaps everyone is within the reach of redemption. For one cannot easily listen to, let alone compose or sing poetry without have some sort of heart.
But in any case, here is a sample of a Taliban Tarana.