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Written by Claudia Brose
When you have a chance to watch Nadia Tarzi giving lectures, workshops or museum tours you will quickly notice the passion in her eyes and gestures for the cultural history of Afghanistan. Stories of her father’s excavations in Bamiyan and elsewhere breathe life into the images presented in slideshows or objects in exhibition tours she gives. You start feeling immersed into the cultural setting Nadia plays out for you.
How did Nadia’s life become so dominated by the cultural history of this country?
Like Afghanistan, Nadia is a melting pot of a diverse set of cultures. Her father, Professor Zemaryalai Tarzi, is a well-known Afghan archaeologist; her mother is from Sweden. Raised in France, she presently makes her home in California and invests all her time and effort into the preservation of Afghanistan’s archaeological heritage.
Devoted to his country’s history, Professor Tarzi taught his daughter what he taught his people in a country he had to flee when the Soviets marched in: An appreciation for a region’s thousands of years of history, and the multi-layered, interwoven cultural and artistic richness of an area which was once part of the storied Silk Road.
In the mid ’90’s, while spending a summer with her father in France, Nadia witnessed his profound sadness when he found out about the destruction of a niche representing an aquatic scene of Buddha and other statues surrounding it. The niche was part of the buddhist monastic ensemble of Hadda near Jellallabad. She understood her father’s feelings when looking up archival images of the intact site, which had been turned into a pile of rubble, something the photos illustrated quite brutally.
For Nadia that afternoon in France marked a point of no return. She decided to do whatever she could to advocate for the preservation of a culture and its archaeological heritage of a country that, sadly, is better known for its warlords, political instability and seemingly never-ending conflicts. Nadia wants to open her audience’s mind to the fact that more than 60.000 Afghan cultural treasures have been destroyed and about 10.000 more objects are unaccounted for. According to Nadia Tarzi, “What Afghanistan has produced is not just the heritage of this country, but it is in fact the shared cultural heritage of the world”.
In 2001 Nadia Tarzi founded the Association for the Protection of Afghan Archaeology for the purpose of creating widespread awareness and appreciation of the country’s archaeological treasures and to help the people of Afghanistan to reconnect with their own cultural roots. Dividing her time between raising two young daughters and growing an infant non-profit, she gradually established APAA as a leading interlocutor for a country whose cultural history is too often overlooked.
courtesy of the Washington Post
Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, has spent the past year working on a new social network. This time, for good deeds.
With Jumo, set to launch on Nov. 30, Hughes hopes users will bring the same enthusiasm they do to Facebook status updates and fan pages to issues such as women’s rights in South Asia, child trafficking in Eastern Europe, and the fight against Aids.
And instead of working out of the Harvard University dorm room he shared with Facebook partner Mark Zuckerberg, Hughes has been working out of offices of in New York. Jumo, means “together in concert” in the West African language Yoruba. It “conjures up the idea of a lot of people working on different causes simultaneously to affect social change,” Hughes said.
The nonprofit is launching its social network as households are cutting expenses. But 60,000 people have signed up so far, without knowing much about it the project. Hughes thinks people would get more engaged if they knew about what their favorite charities and causes were up to and met like-minded people on the Web.
Hughes, who ran the social media campaign for President Obama’s election run, stopped by The Washington Post last week to talk about Jumo.
The APAA is proud to be one of the early adopters of Jumo. Please follow our cause by clicking on this link.
Afghanistan’s Mes Aynak region, 20 miles from Kabul, is making headlines, and not because of insurgent violence.
Mes Aynak is garnering international press attention due to the probable destruction of a 2,600-year-old Buddhist monastery complex discovered in the area. The ruins, believed by archaeologists to be supremely important to the religious and cultural history of the region, are under imminent threat because they lie directly above a copper mine that a Chinese mining company, China Metallurgical Group Corp (MGC), plans to excavate.
Check out a very recent article in Smithsonian Magazine (on-line version here) which gives an excellent profile of Dr Zemaryalai Tarzi, President of the APAA.
“…Crenulated sandstone cliffs, honeycombed with man-made grottoes, loom above us. Two giant cavities about a half-mile apart in the rock face mark the sites where two huge sixth-century statues of the Buddha, destroyed a decade ago by the Taliban, stood for 1,500 years. At the base of the cliff lies the inner sanctum of a site Tarzi calls the Royal Monastery, an elaborate complex erected during the third century that contains corridors, esplanades and chambers where sacred objects were stored…”
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Searching-for-Buddha-in-Afghanistan.html#ixzz16pmgI5gp