The Music Falls Silent: Afghanistan’s all-female orchestra looks to a bleak future
Kabul: “The Taliban have arrived, hurry up, run”. Negin Khpalwak, a 24-year-old conductor and once the face of Afghanistan’s famous all-female orchestra, began to panic after learning that the Taliban were rapidly taking over Afghanistan.
The last time the Islamist terrorists were in power, they banned music and women were not allowed to work. In recent months, they have carried out targeted attacks against those they believe have betrayed their view of the Islamic regime.
Rushing into the room, Khpalwak grabbed a robe to cover his bare arms and hid a small set of decorative drums. Then she gathered photographs and newspaper clippings from her famous musical performances, piled them up and burned them.
“I felt so bad, I felt like the memory of my life had been reduced to ashes,” said Khpalwak, who fled to the United States – one of the tens of thousands who fled. fled abroad after the lightning conquest of Afghanistan by the Taliban.
Afghanistan’s all-female orchestra has become a global symbol of freedom as it continued to enjoy its new name and fame after forming the group in 2014, even after facing hostilities and threats. from some in this deeply conservative Muslim country, in the 20 years since the last Taliban reign.
Today, armed Taliban are keeping the Afghan National Institute of Music (ANIM) closed where the group once practiced, while in parts of the country the movement has ordered radio stations to stop broadcasting music.
“We did not expect Afghanistan to return to the Stone Age,” said Ahmad Sarmast, founder of ANIM, adding that the Zohra orchestra represented the freedom and empowerment of women in Afghanistan and that its members served as “cultural diplomats”.