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Asia Society
Homeland Afghanistan

Geography and Destiny For centuries, scarce resources and difficult terrain have required people in the Hindu Kush region to develop unique solutions to survive. But while geography has brought challenges, it has also offered opportunities. In Afghanistan, geography is a multi-sided destiny.

Identity and Perception Local, tribal, and religious identities in the Hindu Kush region have always shifted depending on one’s point of view. As Afghanistan decides what it means to be Afghan, it faces a kaleidoscope of moving perspectives.

Tradition and Modernization Afghans have always had to be flexible. At times, this flexibility has brought people together, and at other times it has torn them apart. Reconciling tradition and modernization means making sense of what’s at stake when people change--and when they don’t.

Traces and Narratives History is not always written. Much of what we know about Afghanistan comes from scattered artifacts, symbols, and oral traditions. Understanding these traces means piecing together the narratives that history leaves behind.

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A Song for Afghanistan

CIRCA 2010 CE
Reveal Source

Kabul Transit. Directed by David B. Edwards, Gregory Whitmore, and Maliha Zulfacar. Performed by Malang Kohistani. Oley, PA: Bullfrong Films, 2006. DVD.


Producer: Gregory Whitmore

Reveal Transcript

Our country has pleasant weather,
beautiful land and fields
Birthplace of brave men,
heroes of the land

The Afghan people are of noble blood
The country has many mineral mines
with its barren lands,
fast-flowing rivers,
and flat deserts, too,
roads and also airports

Look at our strategic location!
It has high mountains,
and many sources of water for electricity
Greedy nations want our land
and they have interfered in our country
We are tired of colonialism, slavery, and politics

From the times of Alexander,
the Russians, Britain, and Genghis Khan,
Now it is Pakistan’s turn
Arabs and Chechens with them

I want to pose a question,
if you don’t mind me asking:
What did you give us?
After you went into space?
After you built the computer?
If you have given us anything,
tell us so we can give something in return

If not, what do you have to do with us?
We are a country
that have fallen behind in technology
Developed countries will either hold our hand or cut it off

Foreign attacks have held us back
and kept us from our work
These attacks have wasted our time
and that is why we have fallen behind

In the decisions of this world
no one listens to the poor people
Those who caused injuries and wounds
should dress the bandages and make amends

We should not suffer
from warring parties and their cruelty
They should go back to their own lands
They should not be tempted by what we have

Thank you