Afghanistan: Where Politicians Fail, Artists Come To The Rescue


As an art admirer and political affairs enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for the slightest bit of good news coming out of Afghanistan – especially since just about every news headlines we’ve been getting over the past few weeks has been about random attacks and explosions in and around Kabul city.

At a time when many Afghan journalists have made careers out of biting politicians’ names and writing for western media to fit their agenda, a team of Afghans are taking an artistically pacifist approach to bring about a change in attitudes away from war and focusing towards peace who I thought deserve more recognition than they’ve received by our journalists.

Introducing #KabulGraffiti

About two weeks ago, after my usual #DailyRabbani ‘thought of the day’ tweet, I happened to tweet and ask if there was any good news coming out of Afghanistan and someone responded with a link to the Kabul Graffiti movement organized by Hamdeli Network. Little did I know that one of the organizers of the movement is actually somebody I follow on twitter (go follow @OmaidSharifi on twitter in case you don’t already).

I got in touch with Omaid Sharifi on twitter to learn more about this project and found it very inspiring that kids are being encouraged to turn their backs on the political noise – most of which is completely useless waste of time in Afghanistan for the youth to be focusing on, anyway – and use artistic expression to encourage critical thinking and a shift in psychological processing of what it means to be growing up in war zones as a shared experience for everyone in the country.

“We want to make Kabul the capital of graffiti in the world and change the face of Kabul.” – Omaid Sharifi, one of the three main leader of the #KabulGraffiti movement.

Omaid Sharifi, Founding Member of 'Make Art Not War' Movement.
Omaid Sharifi, Founding Member of ‘Make Art Not War’ Movement.

‘Make Art Not War’

Here’s a few questions I asked of Omar to try and understand the project a little better:

  1. What is your role in this project? How long have you been involved?

I’m one of the three main leaders of this movement. I’m responsible for coordinating all efforts from getting permissions from government institutions to fundraising and public relations. 

  1. Is this an annual national movement or only a one-time event?

This is a national movement. The action plan to paint in 5 major cities of Afghanistan and 3 highways is prepared and will be implemented in the next 9 months. 

  1. Who are the main supporters and what kind of assistance do you need?

We have only used our personal money and donations from our friends. If we go national, we might need more resources and we appreciate to receive donations. We will set up a crowd funding account for this cause.

  1. Do the kids who draw the art learn it in a specific school or art center or is this open to anyone who wants to draw anything?

We only have one artist in the team. We want to make art public. We want ordinary people to come and practice painting. We make it step by step and easy for them. Most of the people involved in the painting, this is their first time, in using the kids.

For readers interested to learn more, Hamdeli Network is holding ‘Hamdeli Festival 2015’ on the occasion of International Day of Youth & Bamiyan as SAARC Cultural Capital for 2015.

When? 25th-28th of August 2015

Where? In Bamiyan – my favorite place in Afghanistan 🙂

“There will be music, theater, movie night, circus, fashion show, and music bands from SAARC countries performing in front of Buddha and in Band-e-Amir. The main theme of the program is youth.”

Too bad I will not be there but make no mistake about it, I’m there in spirit! Here’s some photos of the #KabulGraffiti campaign (all images courtesy of @OmaidSharifi):

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