Ghazal Ahmadi is a film actress in Afghanistan, and is also known for performing in music videos.
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In this interview Ghazal Ahmadi speaks about her experience as a music student who stopped learning how to play the guitar because it became too problematic for her.
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Video interview duration: 4:30 minutes.
The interview was prepared and edited by Samay Hamed in Kabul in Afghanistan in 2006-2008. Post-editing by Mik Aidt/Freemuse. Signature music: Safdar Tawakoli.
Transcription of the video interview
“Since my childhood, I was interested in becoming a good guitar player. At that time, we didn’t have any opportunity for exercising playing guitar in Iran, because we were immigrants there. My mother had been living in Iran for 25 years, and I was also born in Iran. When we returned to Afghanistan we rented a house in Kabul. We started a new life here.
After a long period, I was attending school. I attended 12th class. I met a lot of good friends when I attended a private educational course. One day I opened the mystery of my heart to one of my best friends. That I have dreamt about playing guitar since my childhood but that I haven’t found anyone who could help me with it.
She said: ‘I know a music master who can help you to learn!’
I became happy, and went to that music course together with my friend, and I decided to sign up for it, and learn to play guitar, but one of the teachers told me that I could not attend that course because all the guitar students were boys. I became very upset. Just at that moment, I saw the photo of the Indian singer Lata on a wall. When I saw that picture, I felt even stronger that I wanted to become an artist like Lata.
After I came out from the course, I was thinking: ‘Why couldn’t they allow me to attend the course? Why is Afghanistan a country in which girls are not allowed to learn music?’
After a while, a music master contacted me, and said that he could help me to learn music but that it would have to be in his private house. I told him that I would have to talk with my parents first. When I told my mother she did not agree.
‘How could a young girl be allowed to take lessons from a strange man?Especially when she is learning music … playing guitar!’, she said.
She also told me that it would be bad for our reputation if it came out: ‘An Afghan girl never should be learning music!’
Even though my mother wanted to hinder me, I secretly went there under a burqa. After a long period, I had learned some parts of playing guitar, and good music.
One day when returning home from the teacher’s house, my uncle saw me. Then my uncle started blaming my mother, saying: ‘How can you allow your daugther to be free and to learn music from a stranger? Particularly when he is a young boy!’
My uncle beat me seriously. After I had been harassed by my uncle and my mother, I lost interest in playing guitar. I couldn’t continue the study. I stopped.
Finally, I decided to take my guitar to the course which I initially had wanted to join and then was not allowed to attend. So I took my guitar to that music teacher and said:
‘Please take this guitar, and when the situation is ready for Afghan women to learn and girls come to learn to play guitar, then you can let them use my guitar’.”
This interview is a part of the Freemuse Special Report, ‘The cage is singing’
In this youtube-video clip, Ghazal Ahmadi is performing as an extra, in one scene she plays the daira drum: