In lead-up to Herat cultural festival, Afghan literati discuss poetry and peace

5 Aug 2018

In lead-up to Herat cultural festival, Afghan literati discuss poetry and peace

HERAT - Ahead of a forthcoming poetry festival that is expected to draw hundreds of writers and poetry aficionados alike to Herat, a series of UN-backed televised programmes about the intersection of poetry and peace has been running in the western provinces.

In one of the recent television programmes to build interest among the region’s burgeoning literati, panellists discussed how poetry nurtures values of tolerance, respect and devotion, and debated ways poetry could be used to build community cohesion, reduce violence and solve conflict.

During the lively discussion broadcast by Ariana TV, Rooholamin Amini, a prominent Herat poet, suggested that Afghans would benefit from embracing the values of traditional poetry.

“We are stuck in conflict and violence, and it’s our literature, our poetry that can teach us how to live in peace and harmony,” Amini said. “We need to do more to promote it and to practice these values in our life, reviving the commitment we have had in this region for love and kindness.”

Taking a similar position, Foroozan Amiri, a fiction writer, said that the foundation of Afghanistan’s literary tradition is built on peace and love, noting that the country’s major literary figures believed in diversity, respect and tolerance.

“Let’s have a look at Rumi's poetry where he says, ‘I practice the religion of love, my faith and my religion are love,’ and understand that our culture and history have been promoting peace,” Amiri noted.

The televised roundtable discussions, broadcast to an audience estimated at 400,000 people in Afghanistan’s western region, are part of a wider information campaign that began in March in Afghanistan’s west and has included radio debates and public events. They have been organized by UNAMA’s Herat regional office.

The campaign, designed to promote thinking around peace by giving voice to the views of ordinary Afghans, is part of a countrywide outreach programme aimed at creating platforms – using radio, television and social media – where Afghans can engage in dialogue and discuss critical issues affecting their communities.

Herat, as a city with a rich culture and history, has deep roots in poetry and literature. The province has nurtured the talents of numerous poets, writers, historians, painters and calligraphers over the years. Today, although Herat is in the western corner of Afghanistan, it maintains its importance as a cultural magnet.

UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.

UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.