Remembering the Saur Revolution

Discussion in 'Afghanistan' started by Disir, May 19, 2018.

  1. Disir
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    Disir Gold Member

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    Forty years ago, on April 28, 1978, Communists made a revolution in Afghanistan. My friend Tahir Alemi was one of them. He was a good man, kind and gentle, and he wanted to change the world.

    Tahir was a lecturer in Pashto literature at the University in Kabul. He’d come a long way. His father was a small peasant in a village in Nangrahar, near the border with Pakistan. The family worked their own land, and had one sharecropper, so they were doing better than most. Tahir got to university, and into his job, through raw intelligence. He loved his father, and his brothers and his mother. But he had to set his face against his father’s values.

    Afghanistan in the 1970s was a feudal country. Power lay not with urban businessmen, but with great landowners who lived in countryside forts. Sometimes there were two great lords in a village, sometimes one, and in some places one man dominated several villages. There were many middle peasants, men like Tahir’s father, with maybe one sharecropper, but still also working their own land.

    Below them were the sharecroppers, perhaps half of the population, who were allowed to keep a third of the crop they harvested. In Tahir’s village it was a fifth, because the land was better. Everywhere sharecroppers, workers, and shepherds were paid just enough to buy three naan breads each for two adults and two each for two children. That was 2,000 calories per adult and 1,300 per child. They couldn’t afford any other food.

    I was an anthropologist in Afghanistan in the early 1970s. The people I engaged with had been nomads with sheep, but had fallen on hard times. Their standard of living was pretty typical for poor Afghans. Women had two dresses in their lifetimes, one when they reached puberty and a second when they were married. An ordinary family had one small cup for tea. They ate meat, with great excitement, once a year at the Feast of the Prophet. For relish to go with the bread, they made soup by boiling clover and other greens they gathered. Two of the three wealthiest families in the small village of thirty-three households competed to display hospitality to me and my wife. One household fried me an egg on a special occasion. The other gave me stew with my own small potato. No one else had one.
    Remembering the Saur Revolution

    This is lengthy and it's a unique perspective.
     

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