Photos from Afghanistan

OzOutback
Images of the World
Flag of Afghanistan

The people of Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic country, including peoples who also live in neighbouring countries. The Pathan (Pashtun or Pashto) people are traditionally the dominant ethnic and linguistic community and are concentrated in the east and the south although now many are settled in other areas as well. Pashtuns also dominate the neighbouring tribal areas in Pakistan.

Man of Islam Qala
 
Boy in Islam Qala
 
Porter boy
 
Selling kebabs
 
Father and daughter
 
Boys from Herat
 
Nomad family
 
Herat boy
 
Kukchi nomad girl
 
Farmer at work
 
Ploughing the field
 
Feeding his horse
 
Young porters
 
Preparing grain
 
Making mud bricks
 
Flying kite
 
Making brass ornaments
 
Brass casting
 
Child worker
 
Using a lathe
 
Making spindle
 
Old man of Herat
 
Trading grain
 
Boy in a workshop
 
Girl of Deh Khatay
 
Playing with water
 
Nomad family
 
Shoeshine boy
 
Boy of Kabul
 
Uzbek boy
 
Women in
 
Mazar's blacksmiths
 
Qur'an school
 
Grilling kebabs
 
Repairing jewellery
 
Sikh boys, Kabul
 

Tajik people who speak Dari (a Persian dialect) live mostly in the eastern valleys north and south of the Hindu Kush mountains and in Tajikistan to the north. Dari is the most widely spoken language in Afghanistan and the mother-tongue of approximately 50%. Turkic peoples, mostly Uzbek and Turkmen, live in the northern plains as farmers and herders and in the republics of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The Hazara, a Mongoloid people who mostly speak Persian, live in the central mountains and there are many smaller communities, like the Nuristanis of the high mountains of the north east and the Baluch who live in the southern desert and the neighbouring Baluchistan region in Pakistan. There are three million Kuchis (from the Persian word Koch meaning "migration") in Afghanistan, Pashtun nomads. The women do not wear the all-enveloping "chaderi" or "burqa". At least 60% Kuchi remain fully nomadic; they have however suffered greatly in the past two decades of war and destruction; for most Kuchi life means poverty, war, shrinking access to land, ethnic tensions and leftover land mines.

The people of Afghanistan are a tough, hardworking people, living in a magnificent but harsh country. They are dignified, fiercely independent, but very hospitable and courteous to strangers in their splendid time-honoured Muslim tradition. Life is hard for many in this country of extreme temperatures, hot in summer, freezing cold in winter. Farming is hard work, dealing with dry, sunbaked soil that has to be broken up with wooden ploughs, pulled by oxen. In small workshops all over the country people make long hours and work is all by hand. Yet, objects of great beauty are produced in wood, brass and textiles.

For many children theirs is a working life too; although there is no doubt they are loved and valued like everywhere else, quite often parents cannot afford to send their children to school and boys have to help out on the field or in the workshops where they learn the trade from their fathers. Others earn their keep running errands, acting as porters or shining shoes. They are resilient and are expected to contribute to the family at an early age, may put in long hours in often tough conditions, but it is clear the boys grow up to be tough men. In this strict Muslim country girls are usually confined to the house, so it is mainly boys you see on the streets. They work and play, and always seem cheerful, friendly and courteous to strangers.