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18 September 2014
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Afghanistan: At the Crossroads of Ancient Civilisations

By Dan Cruickshank
People

'They can destroy our buildings and monuments but not our minds, our past, our history lives on in them...'

The people I spoke to - ranging from academics and museum curators to villagers and cave-dwellers at Bamiyan - were highly sophisticated in their response to the devastation of their culture. All were aware of the cultural richness of their country, and appalled at its spoliation; all felt that their national identity had been attacked and undermined. I asked a man in Chakari village if he thought money should be made available for the reconstruction of the Manir-I-Chakari. He replied: 'It was such a cruel way to treat any historic object. They can destroy our buildings and monuments but not our minds, our past, our history lives on in them - yes it must be rebuilt.'

Man from Chakari village, Afghanistan
Chakari villager ©
Few people seem to have been broken or made bitter by the 20 years of war and oppression. All the Afghans I met were dignified, welcoming and optimistic about their future. As the culture minister, Dr Sayed Raheen, told me: 'Our nation is an old nation and the location of this country has required it to be invaded by different conquerors, and each time after destruction our people have managed to survive, and to revive what they lost. I'm sure we will do it once more.'

Published: 2002-09-01



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