Thu, 26 Nov 2020

An Afghan man makes dambora, a guitar-like instrument at his shop in Aybak, capital of Samangan province, northern Afghanistan, Oct. 6, 2020. (Kawa Basharat/Xinhua)

The traditional music in Afghanistan is disappearing with the emergence of extremist groups and the usage of dish antenna and satellite TVs. But some people are trying to bring it back.

by Abdul Haleem

SAMANGAN, Afghanistan, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- "Unfortunately the emergence of extremist groups and usage of dish antenna and satellite TVs have negatively affected the traditional music in Afghanistan," a local artist Mohammad in Afghanistan's northern Samangan province said.

"Rampant use of satellite TVs, youngsters' love of pop music, economic problems and above all the Taliban threats have largely contributed to the vanishing of traditional music in Afghan society," Mohammad, who has been singing and playing with dambora, a guitar-like instrument over the past 15 years, told Xinhua recently.

Expressing nostalgia for the past, the aged singer said a decade ago he would be invited to festivals and even to villages to play the music two or three times a week and earn a reasonable income. But in the past few years he only performed one or two times a month.

Photo taken on Oct. 7, 2020 shows dambora, a guitar-like instrument at a shop in Aybak, capital of Samangan province, northern Afghanistan. (Kawa Basharat/Xinhua)

"The Taliban regime during its reign which collapsed 19 years ago had banned music. Nowadays, in the countryside where the group has control, singing is still forbidden," Mohammad said.

Echoing Mohammad's comments, Taj Mohammad, a shopkeeper in Samangan's provincial capital Aybak city, told Xinhua, "I used to sell three to four dambora each week in the past, but nowadays I can hardly sell one dambora a week."

"Like other institutions, the ongoing security threats and insurgency have also damaged music in the country," Taj Mohammad said.

Afghan men make dambora, a guitar-like instrument at his shop in Aybak, capital of Samangan province, northern Afghanistan, Oct. 7, 2020. (Kawa Basharat/Xinhua)

He said no musician can take dambora from one place to another freely, fearing the attack from the Taliban and like-minded groups.

"Developing traditional music requires security and government support," the dambora seller said, adding in the past the government financed the folklore and artists through the ministry for culture and information.

Commenting on the impact of western culture on Afghan traditional music, director of Culture and Information Department of Samangan province Azizullah Qatra told Xinhua, "No doubt, free and private media has its impact on everything including music."

Photo taken on Oct. 6, 2020 shows music players shops in Aybak, capital of Samangan province, northern Afghanistan. (Kawa Basharat/Xinhua)

However, he said the government would spare no efforts to support and develop traditional music in Samangan and all provinces of Afghanistan.

According to locals, some entities with the support of government have been organizing a dambora festival with the participation of folk singers in neighboring Bamyan province over the past couple of years, trying to revive folklore music in the war-battered country.■

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