By Omar Sobhani
Usually when I go to shoot for a story, we are faced with a bomb blast, a suicide attack, or some other type of violence here in Afghanistan. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when I visited Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music. Even though I have lived in Kabul for many years, I had no clue this academy even existed — it is the only of its kind in the whole country.
Foreigners and Afghans teach young Afghans how to play all sorts of instruments, as well as to sing. What struck me most is the opportunity given to women. There are not many opportunities for women in Afghanistan to play or sing music — during the Taliban era (from 1996-2001) music was outright banned and women were basically taken away from public life.
So, being at the school, and seeing young girls learn how to play music, actually gave me some hope about my country and made me think perhaps we can live in peace in the future. This is not the usual feeling I have after an assignment.
(View a slideshow of images from the academy here)
Here’s some background on the Academy, which opened in 2010 (from their website):
The first music school within the Ministry of Education was established in 1973. In the late 1980s, this school merged with the School of Fine Arts and operated until 1992, when civil war consumed Afghanistan. In 2001, the music department within the School of Fine Arts re-opened with a lot of limitations: no rehearsing rooms, trained music teachers, or musical instruments.