pop star makes a comeback
'Beloved Kabul': Exiled singer's songs have been played before by
rulers trying to win favour
Farhad Darya awoke early yesterday in his home in a Virginia suburb
of Washington D.C. to check his e-mail for news on the war in his
Instead of war news, the inbox was flooded with hundreds of messages
from around the world. They came from friends and fans, congratulating
him that his song Beloved Kabul had been played over the radio in
the newly liberated Afghan capital as a symbol of freedom from the
fundamentalist restrictions of the fleeing Taliban.
Mr. Darya, one Afghanistan's most popular singers, fled the
country in 1990 because the Soviet-installed government would not
permit his songs to play on the radio.
Living in Paris and homesick, he recorded the music for Beloved
Kabul in a French studio in 1991.
The song was released in Germany one year later. It quickly became
a hit among exiled Afghans around the globe.
Yesterday, the ballad was the first to drift out over the airwaves
after Kabul was captured by the Northern Alliance.
Instrumental music was banned by the Taliban and musicians were
routinely jailed, their confiscated instruments hung from lampposts.
"Let me sing limitless songs/ Limitless songs for the agony
of the Afghans/ For my homeless wandering people/ Let me sing from
Iran down to Pakistan," Mr. Darya sings in the song.
"The return of music to Afghanistan means a new day. It is
the return of life to Afghanistan," he said yesterday.
He describes his musical style as a mixture of classical, folk and
His career began with a university band that, he says, "Rocked
routine Afghan music."
He released 15 albums in Afghanistan, and another 13 since he fled.
His mother, youngest brother and father-in-law remain in Kabul.
"The people of Afghanistan love music," said Mr. Darya.
"They have big hearts, and they love to smile. I feel so honoured
to be their trusted one. It is a wonderful feeling. I do not have
the words to explain it."
Mr. Darya does not know why the Taliban rulers banned instruments.
A Muslim himself, he says there is nothing in the Koran to support
He suspects the Taliban understood the power of music. Though Afghans
became numb to successive governments blaring propaganda songs over
the airwaves, sorrowful ballads of dissent caught on quickly.
"Music is the most powerful weapon. The Taliban are afraid
of it, because it's going easily around the world. You can send
your messages in music, so music was and is the most trusted thing
in the lives of Afghans compared with politics."
Mr. Darya's lyrics tell love stories, but he says his lover
is always Afghanistan.
"Do you want to make a journey towards your lover or not, O,
my beloved? / Do you have any news of the miserable state of mine
or not, O, my beloved?" his lyrics go.
Though Mr. Darya is optimistic about the future of his homeland
after Monday's events, he said it is too early to be celebrating
the fall of the Taliban.
He has good reason to be wary. Over the years, his songs have been
played by new governments trying to win favour from the people,
only to be censored as the regimes turn repressive.
"We have to be careful to cheer about this immediately.
Our history is telling us something else. We do not want to make
the same mistakes. This is a critical situation. We need the rest
of the world to stand with us and help us in a proper way.
"It is not the first time that my song is broadcasted after
a political situation."
He said he plans to return to Afghanistan with his wife and five-year-old
son when the country is stable.
National Post newspaper. Toronto, Canada