Like radio listeners everywhere in the world, Radio Azadi listeners ask that the station broadcast appeals for assistance or action on the part of the government. The format of the letters of request follows a traditional set pattern. Initially God is invoked, followed by salutations to the recipients of the letters. In addition to the substance of the letter, a poem or a story is inserted into the text. The use of poetry, often composed by a famous poet, and the relating of humorous and instructive stories or jokes is part of the Afghan cultural tradition that requires that even a letter about mundane matters should show the writer’s knowledge as well as good manners.

Response to a Request for Military Assistance

This letter originates from a local official’s request to the government for military assistance. In response a commander is sent to help vanquish the requestor’s adversaries, who are most likely bandits. While the subject of the letter is prosaic and direct, it is still richly illuminated in gold and red.

Muhibb `Ali, calligrapher/scribe. Military document, 1805. African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress (002.00.00)

Bookmark this item: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/voices-from-afghanistan/requests-for-action-and-assistance.html#obj0

“Why can’t they now find Osama Bin-Laden?”

Name: Abdallah Nadzai
Country: Afghanistan
Province: Unknown
District: Unknown
Language: Dari

Radio Azadi Collection, African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress (016.00.00)

Read the transcript

Bookmark this item: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/voices-from-afghanistan/requests-for-action-and-assistance.html#obj1

A Request for Food and Aid

Name: Ahmad Zaher
Country: Afghanistan
Province: Unknown
District: District of Kabul
Language: Pushtu

Radio Azadi Collection, African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress (012.00.00)

Read the transcript

Bookmark this item: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/voices-from-afghanistan/requests-for-action-and-assistance.html#obj2

Letter from a Prisoner

Name: Abdul Ghafoor Farahi
Province: North Balochistan
District: Balochistan
Current location: Pakistan
Language: Pushtu

Radio Azadi Collection, African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress (040.00.00)

Read the transcript

Bookmark this item: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/voices-from-afghanistan/requests-for-action-and-assistance.html#obj3

Floral Decoration

In Afghan culture, flowers are considered objects of great beauty from which pleasure is to be derived. They are often used to decorate written materials. This laquer ware book cover from the nineteenth century is decorated with tulips, roses, and carnations. These same flowers appear in the decorations of contemporary letters sent by Afghan citizens to Radio Azadi. The two letters shown here, one about love and the other requesting that a song be played, are from students who are well aware of the floral tradition.

1 of 3

Bookmark this item: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/voices-from-afghanistan/requests-for-action-and-assistance.html#obj4

Back to top