Music Scene Expands in Helmand
After years of persecution at the hands of the Taliban, which forced many musicians and singers into exile or hiding, the music scene in Helmand province is rapidly expanding. A growing sense of security across the province achieved by Afghan National Security and International Security Assistance Forces has allowed music to be celebrated openly once again.
While the younger generation generally prefer modern music, including that from overseas, there are still a large number of Afghans who love traditional folk songs and are now able to relive nostalgic memories of the good times they had decades ago.
“I never miss a chance of listening to live concerts held on occasions such as Eid, New Year, weddings and other ceremonies,” said Mohammad Saalem, from Lashkar Gah district. “There are many music fans in this city and when we feel like it, we invite people who can play music or sing to our place and enjoy songs.”
Mangal Lughmanai, who lives in Lashkar Gah, began his singing career 25 years ago but, during the period of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, was forced into exile. He used his time as a refugee in Iran to develop his musical ability. Now he is a successful professional singer with a sizeable fan base from across Helmand and neighboring provinces.
“Many bands and singers have emerged in Helmand province and Afghanistan in general, in recent times,” said Lughmanai. “Music has always been part of Afghan culture – it has been considered nourishment for the soul.”
Aside from attending formal concerts, the new-found freedom for Helmand citizens to let their hair down is also manifesting itself on a smaller scale, with people joining together in communities to enjoy music together.
“It is because of the improving security situation, and our constant pressure on the insurgency, that the people of Helmand can now live lives which feature fun and enjoyment,” said Lt. Col. David Eastman, spokesman, Task Force Helmand.
“This is Afghanistan’s true culture and heritage and the security that Afghan Forces, working in partnership with ISAF, has brought is enabling the Helmand people to rediscover it after years of oppression.”