Afghanistan: Farhad Darya

Farhad DaryaAiab Gul DeishadAziz GhaznawiBaktash KamranFazl-u-Rahman WahdatGhazal AhmadiNairezSafdar TawakoliSahar AfarinZhakfar HussainiClick to go to main page of 'The cage is singing'  

Farhad Darya is the most famous and best-selling pop singer, music director and composer in Afghanistan. He is known as ‘Voice of Afghan People’ as well as ‘International Voice of Afghanistan’.

Regarding the history of music censorship in the country, Farhad Darya’s case is one of the most significant.


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In this interview Farhad Darya gives examples of the long list of his songs which were censored in the period of the communist parties in Afghanistan, starting from 1979.

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Video interview duration: 2:50 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.


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Transcription of the video interview

“The first time I faced censorship was in 1979 when I had recorded my first works for the only tv station which existed in Afghanistan at that time.
The song was entitled ‘Ice Blocks’. I was a 17-year-old university
student. The lyrics said:

‘If the sun melts all ice blocks
all the ones who are asleep
will be taken away by the flood’

One night after this song had been aired on tv the video tape with my song disappeared from the archive. Why? I don’t know. And then again, maybe I do know. It was because of the message which was hiding in the song.

Then I performed a song entitled ‘Maula Ali’:

‘Oh Maula Ali! Solve the problem!
Outthrow the throne of sorrow!’

Since I used the ‘throne of sorrow’ as a symbol for their regime they didn’t allow the song to be broadcasted. This song was banned for years, until I approached the president and I got the permission from the President’s Office to rebroadcast it.

I had another song entitled ‘Wairan’ (‘Ruined’) which was censored not for its lyrics, but for its tv video clip. In the clip a strong wind destroys a home which I had built out of playing cards. Because of that particular image they blacklisted this video clip for years.

I had one other song entitled ‘Lock of Prison’ in which I used Rumi’s poem:

‘I came again like a new Eid to break the locks of prisons
and break the teeth and claws of this sky which eats human beings’

In this song, I also made a significant tv image. I showed the rope of an execution gallows, burning, and a wheel was shown running over a dark pair of glasses. This song was also blacklisted for several years and was among those songs which I got permission from the president to be released.

I had some other songs – like ‘I have an emmigrant [friend]’. In my song I sang about the story of emmigration, and they didn’t allow us to tell that people are leaving the country. Half of the nation is emmigrants, and you have also an emmigrant friend. They didn’t allow us to sing songs like that…

‘I’m upset because I have an emmigrant friend. Don’t disturb (hurt) me, please!’”

This interview is a part of the Freemuse Special Report, ‘The cage is singing’

This is a music video with a song by Farhad Darya on YouTube:


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