Louis Esterhuizen. Talibaanse digkuns ontlok kontroversie

 

Pas het daar in Brittanje ‘n bloemlesing met kontemporêre Talibaanse digkuns in Engelse vertaling verskyn, of dit word in kontroversie gedompel. Volgens die berig op The Guardian se webblad word die uitgewers van die bloemlesing Poetry of the Taliban, Hurst & Co., daarvan beskuldig dat hulle besig is met “giving voice to terrorists”. Die uitgewers se verweer is egter “that its 235 poems, including love poems, verses exulting in the Afghan landscape and patriotic ballads, provide a unique insight into the human side of the Taliban.”

Richard Kemp, ‘n voormalige bevelvoerder van die Britse troepe in Afghanistan is een van die meer uitgesproke beswaarmakers. So waarsku hy teen “being taken in by a lot of self-justifying propaganda” en vervolg met: “What we need to remember is that these are fascist, murdering thugs who suppress women and kill people without mercy if they do not agree with them, and of course are killing our soldiers. It doesn’t do anything but give the oxygen of publicity to an extremist group which is the enemy of this country.”

Talibaanse romantikus

Maar dat die binneste binne van hierdie robuuste manne pure blommegeur en soetwater is, is helaas nie te betwyfel nie; ‘n siening wat deur die joernalis David Rohde beaam word. (En hy behoort te weet, want hy was immers sewe maande lank deur die Taliban aangehou.) “They would sing and recite poems every night after dinner,” het hy aan The Guardian se verslaggewer vertel. “Privately they would sing love poems, but when their commanders were around, they would only sing war poems. It shows the tensions within the movement. The question is which way it will turn in the end.”

Nog ‘n interessante waarneming is deur John Jeffcock gemaak. Nie net is hy ‘n voormalige Kaptein in die Britse weermag nie, maar ook samesteller van die uiters gewilde bloemlesing Heroes waarin gedigte van die Britse soldate in Afghanistan byeen gebring is: “It does not surprise me that the Taliban write beautiful poetry, as they are equally soldiers of a cause and will experience the same or similar emotions to a British soldier. The British soldiers who wrote in Heroes probably have much in common with the average Taliban soldier, arguably more so than the members of parliament who send them to Afghanistan. I can imagine a British soldier, as I did, feeling empathy to the individual but not their cause, as we would have done in the Falklands and throughout our military history.”

Omslag

Omslag

Maar terug na die bloemlesing. (En sjoe, watter lieflike omslag het dié boek nie!) Volgens die uitgewer se teks op hul webblad, die volgende: “Afghanistan, like other Muslim countries in the region, has a long tradition of popular verse, and the Taliban – both its official leadership and individual fighters – have embraced the form. Despite the group’s austere interpretation of Islam, which extends to a complete ban on instrumental music, recordings of poetry recitations are frequently traded between fighters on CDs and MP3s and often serve as soundtracks for the movement’s propaganda videos […]  Shakespearean love sonnets they are not. But those expecting doctrinaire propaganda might be surprised by the range of the verse in the book […] The Taliban are known not only in the West, but in much of the Muslim world, too for their strict conservatism rather than for any delicate feelings of humanity, yet the poetry associated with them is replete with such emotions.”

Op Huffington Post het John Lundberg ‘n interessante blog hieroor geskryf. Maar selfs meer interessant as dit wat hy sê, is die kommentare onderaan. Graag haal ek enkeles van hulle aan:

‘These are poems of love and war and friendship and tell us more about Afghanistan than a million news reports. Anybody claiming to be an Afghan expert should read this book before giving their next opinion.’ – Muhammed Hanif, author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes and of Our Lady of Alice Bhatti

‘A highly original and extremely important book which by making the Taliban’s poems available in English arguably sheds more light on the Taliban and its resilience than could any organisational chart or force assessment. More significantly, it draws attention to the crucial role that aesthetics and emotions – as opposed to resources and doctrines – play in military organizations. As such, this may be the first poetry book of strategic significance.’ – Thomas Hegghammer, author of Jihad In Saudi Arabia and co-author of Al-Qaida in its Own Words

Mmmm …

Dit is egter met Flagg Miller, hoogleraar en vertaler van Osama bin Laden se gedigte vir die akademiese joernaal Language and Communication, se opmerking waarmee ek  wil afsluit: “The violence and barbarism of war can sicken anybody,” het hy gesê “… and poetry is a way to frame that violence in higher ethics.”

Amen. Hieronder volg ‘n gedig uit dié bloemlesing wat ek op die uitgewer se webblad kon opspoor. (Terloops, indien jy na die ander bladsye toe skakel, is daar nog 5 om te geniet.)

***

May I be sacrificed for you, my homeland

May I be sacrificed, sacrificed for your high, high mountains,
For your flowerlike chest and pines

May I be sacrificed for you, my homeland, each region of yours is beauty,
Each of your stones are rubies, each bush of yours is medicine.
Each village of yours is a trench, and every youth of yours is sacrificing for you,
Each mountain and hill of yours is a calamity for your enemies.

May I be sacrificed for your dusty deserts and green valleys,
For your flowerlike chest and pines.

May I be sacrificed, sacrificed for you; I will sacrifice my head and property for you,
I will give you my body’s blood in order to make you fresh and thriving.

I will murder all the enemies of your religion and prosperity,
I will gradually make you the holy necklace of Asia.

May I be sacrificed, sacrificed, for your hot trenches,
For your flowerlike chest and pines.

May I be sacrificed, sacrificed for your Helmand, your chest,
For your mountains, Uruzgan, your Kandahar-like trenches,
For Zabul’s trenches and Ghazni’s honorable battlefields,
For Gurbat, Gurbat Wardak, Maidan and Lowgar.

May I be sacrificed, sacrificed for your great youths,
For your flowerlike chest and pines.

May I be sacrificed, sacrificed for you while my homeland, Kunar is alive,
Your youths from Paktika and Farah are heroes.
Your people from Nangarhar and Laghman are successful,
You have trained famous sons.

May I be sacrificed, sacrificed for your dry ruins,
For your flowerlike chest and pines.

May I be sacrificed, sacrificed for your Hindu Kush and Mahipar,
For your Shamshad, Shah-I Kot, Spin Ghar and Tur Ghar.
My ditch-filled country! You have trenches all over.
Your body is Maiwand, Maiwand, you are Habibi’s beloved.

May I be sacrificed for your burnt wounds,
For your flower-like chest and black pines.

-Habibi

 

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