180 years of conflict and misery, and no end in sight.
We talk about Iraq, we talk about Syria and Palestine – there’s usually a remarkable silence on events in Afghanistan. If we hear about it at all, it’s usually in the context of our soldiers having a hard time – which they undoubtedly do, but…
Reading about its place in the history of the great world powers, you’d think Afghanistan was a chessboard rather than a breathtaking landscape of snow, sunlight and mountain heights. Both Britain and the US have been manipulating events there for nearly two centuries. In real life, that means a people who are born, live and die in the midst of wars and other cataclysms that often make little sense to them.
We have people here in Hastings for whom the realities of life in Afghanistan are far more visible and thanks to two of them, author Cllr Maya Evans, the UK co-ordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence and editor Felicity Laurence, Chair of Hastings Community of Sanctuary, we now have this extraordinarily appealing book of photos and personal testimonies that goes a long way to filling that gap in our understanding.
As you turn its pages and meet some of the people there, you realise that, because of our country’s actions, their stories should be understood as a very significant part of our history.
Women in Afghanistan gained suffrage before most UK women did, and before any US women did. They have had times when they have made inroads into education and professional life – and all too many times when they were kicked back to extreme oppression, and desperate poverty and danger. The most recent peace talks in Afghanistan have grudgingly made room for a few women, but they felt their part was symbolic – despite the fact that women and children usually bear the brunt of the consequences of war and the economic and strategic impositions of great powers at work.
By contrast, this book is packed with the voices of women, children and young people – and they do what no amount of news reports seem able to do – they bring the country alive. Get hold of a copy – experience it. It’s important!
Afghanistan: Hidden voices in a forgotten war by Maya Evans
Launch 8th Oct @OPEN in St Leonards
ISBN 978 1 916961 0 0
available in most radical book stores or from the VCNV UK website
Earlyworks Press – club, workshops, events and competitions for authors.