Presentation on theme: "The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini. Biography – Early Childhood Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan His father worked with the Afghan Foreign."— Presentation transcript:
Biography – Early Childhood Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan His father worked with the Afghan Foreign Ministry His mother taught taught Farsi and History at a girls high school In 1970, Hosseini moved with his parents to Paris, France In 1973 the family returned to Kabul In 1980 the family sought political asylum in The United States
Biography - Education Hosseini graduated high school in 1984 Obtained his bachelor’s degree in biology from Santa Clara University in 1988 Earned his medical degree in 1993 from the University of California
Biography – Interesting Facts In June 2006 he was awarded the 2006 Humanitarian Award from the UN Refugee Agency. There are currently more than 3.6 million paperback copies of The Kite Runner in print
Biography - Influences As a child, Hosseini read a great deal of Persian poetry as well as Persian translations of novels His memories of peaceful pre-Soviet era Afghanistan, as well as his personal experiences with Afghan Hazaras, led to the writing of The Kite Runner Statue of Khayyam, Persian poet and philosopher at his mausoleum in Neyshabur.
Biography - Novels The Kite Runner is Hosseini’s first novel It is also the first novel published in English by an Afghan The novel, tells the story of two young boys in an Afghanistan that precedes the bloody communist coup, Soviet invasion, and the rise of the Taliban. The novel traverses decades—and continents—bringing American readers into a world they’ve rarely glimpsed, of violence and poverty and tragic betrayal. At the same time, it’s a universal tale of friendship, redemption and profound hope. The novel was the number three best seller for 2005 in the United States A movie by the same name is set to be released in November 2007 A Thousand Splendid Suns is due to be released in May of 2007
Biography – Perspective on American Agenda in Afghanistan The two major issues in Afghanistan are a lack of security outside Kabul (particularly in the South and East) and the powerful warlords ruling over the provinces with little or no allegiance to the central government. The other rapidly rising concern is the narcotic trade which, if not dealt with, may turn Afghanistan into another Bolivia or Colombia. Equally important is the lack of cultivable land for farmers Afghanistan has always largely been an agricultural country, and that even before the wars destroyed lands and irrigation canals, only 5 per cent of the land was cultivable. The Bush administration tripled its aid package to Afghanistan. Karzai finally (and courageously) announced that warlords will be forbidden from holding office in the future government. NATO agreed to expand the peacekeeping forces to troubled areas outside of Kabul
The People and Cultural Atmosphere of Afghanistan English 4U: The Kite Runner
Culture: Definition(s) The behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, racial or ethnic group. (ie. Pashtun) Also, a particular form or stage of civilization (as it pertains to the development of a nation). Further, the development or improvement of the mind by education or training. (ie. Miss McKee is cultured!)
Introduction: Afghanistan lies across ancient trade and invasion routes from central Asia into India. This geographic position has been the greatest influence on its history and culture. Invaders often came there and stayed.
Present Population For the most part, Afghans are farmers, although a significant minority follows a nomadic lifestyle. In the years since the Soviet invasion and the later civil war, a large number of Afghans have fled the country and become refugees in neighboring nations, most typically in Iran and Pakistan. Present Estimates place Afghanistan’s population at approx. 25 million
The ‘Afghans’ The population of Afghanistan is comprised of a variety of ethnic groups called ‘Afghans.’ The largest of these groups are: - Pashtun - Tajiks - Hazara
Borders? What Borders? The people of Afghanistan are related to many of the ethnic groups in Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan; the borders drawn between these groups are arbitrary.
The Pashtuns The Pashtuns (Pushtuns), who make up the majority of the population, have traditionally been the dominant ethnic group. Their homeland lies south of the Hindu Kush, although Pashtun groups live in all parts of the country. Male Pashtuns live by ancient tribal code called Pashtunwali, which stresses courage, personal honor, resolution, self-reliance, and hospitality. The Pashtuns speak Pashto, which is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan.
The Tajiks The Tajiks (Tadzhiks), are the second largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. They live in the valleys north of Kabul and in Badakhshan. They are farmers, artisans, and merchants. The Tajiks speak Dari (Afghan Persian), the 2 nd official language.
The Hazaras In the central ranges live the Hazaras. Although their ancestors came from a region in northwestern China, the Hazaras speak an archaic (old) Persian. Most are poor farmers and sheepherders. The Hazaras have long been discriminated against. In part, this is because they are minority Shiites (followers of Shi’a Islam) within a dominant Sunni Muslim population. Most Hazaras live north of the Kabul River in an isolated, wooded, mountainous region known as Noristan.
The Hazaras The Hazaras are of particular importance in our study of The Kite Runner… for reasons that will become apparent as you read the novel.
Religious Divisions The strongest tie among these various ethnic groups is their religion: Islam. The majority of Afghans (99 percent) are Muslims. The population is thus split along religious lines: Sunni (84%) and Shi`a (15%). Each of these two religious groups has its own set of beliefs and traditions. Ostensibly, each has its own “culture.” Note: The minority Shiites are made up of the Hazaras and Tajiks, whereas the Sunnis are Pashtun.
Islam An outline of the belief system of Islam is far beyond the scope of this presentation, of course, though indeed we can list some major tenets, as well as some differences between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims.
…from the Qur’an The Messenger of God said, “Islam is built on five pillars: bearing witness that there is no god but God and Muhammad is His prophet, establishing the prayer, giving zakat, hajj, and fasting during Ramadan.”
The Five Pillars of Islam The Testimony of Faith (Shahadah) - the declaration that there is none worthy of worship except Allah (God) and that Muhammad is his messenger.Shahadah Ritual Prayer (Salat) - establishing of the five daily Prayers.Salat Obligatory almsgiving (Zakat) - which is generally 2.5% of the total savings for a rich man working in trade or industry, and 10% or 20% of the annual produce for agriculturists. This money or produce is distributed among the poor.Zakat Fasting (Sawm) – from sunrise to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan.Sawm The Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) - this is done during the month of Zul Hijjah, and is compulsory once in a lifetime for one who has the ability to do it. If the Muslim is in ill health or in debt, he or she is not required to perform Hajj.). Note: Mecca is in Saudi Arabia.Hajj
Sunni vs. Shi’a in Afghanistan Sunni Muslims comprise the vast majority of the population of Afghanistan. Shiites are in the minority and suffer under the domination of the stronger group. Elsewhere in the world, this is often reversed. In Iran, for example, Shiites are the more powerful group. To complicate things, a minority group can also have the power as was the case in Iraq, and is still is in places such as Bahrain.
Sunni vs. Shi’a Continued… Shi’a Muslims believe that the descendents from Muhammad through his beloved daughter Fatima Zahra and his son-in-law Ali (the Imams) were the best source of knowledge about the Qur'an and Islam, the most trusted carriers and protectors of Muhammad's traditions. In particular, Shi’a Muslims recognize the authority of Ali - Muhammad's cousin, son-in-law, and the first young man to accept Islam. He is the father of the Prophet Muhammad's only bloodline. This is directly opposed to that of the caliphate recognized by Sunni Muslims. Shi’a Muslims believe that Ali was appointed successor by Muhammad's direct order on many occasions, and that he is therefore the rightful leader of the Muslim faith.
The Caliphs (Sunni Tradition) A Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the leader of the Islamic Ummah, or global Islamic nation. It means "successor" or "representative". The early leaders of the Muslim nation following Muhammad's (570–632) death were called "Khalifat ar-rasul Allah", meaning the political successor to the prophet of God. After the first four caliphs, the title was claimed by various political leaders including the Ottomans, and at times, by competing dynasties in Spain, Northern Africa, and Egypt. Most historical Muslim governors were called sultans or amirs, and gave allegiance to a caliph.
The Issue It is this issue of ‘political succession’ vs. that of ‘rightful authority’ that has divided the Muslim world for centuries. This issue has been the cause of many civil wars (like that in Afghanistan in the 1990’s). Note: The civil antagonism presently brewing in Iraq is essentially over this very issue. War…what is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again…
A World of Conflict, Struggle and Lost Innocence
Some Afghan Proverbs: A real friend is one who takes the hand of his friend in time of distress and helplessness. One flower does not bring spring. No rose is without thorns. The first day you meet, you are friends. The next day you meet, you are brothers.
A Brief History of Afghanistan English 4U: The Kite Runner
The Middle of the World Afghanistan's history – its political development, foreign relations, and indeed, its very existence as a state- has largely been determined by its geographic location at the crossroads of Central, West, and South Asia.
Ancient Crossroads Since the dawn of prehistory, waves of migrating peoples have passed through the region described by historian Arnold Toynbee as a "roundabout of the ancient world,” leaving behind a story of conquest and retribution, conquest and retribution...
The Terrain Afghanistan is shaped roughly like a clenched fist with the thumb extended out to the northeast. The country covers an area of about 650,000 sq km. Its maximum length from east to west is about 1250 km; from north to south approx.1000 km. The northwestern, western, and southern borders are primarily desert plains and rocky ranges, whereas the southeast and northeast borders rise progressively higher into the major, glacier- covered peaks of the Hindu Kush - an extension of the western Himalayas. Only the northern border is formed by a river, the Amu Darya.
Afghan History: ‘A Tournament of Shadows’ It is safe to think of Afghanistan as the ‘center square’ of a chess board. In its long history, the region has rarely known peace for any substantial period of time. Afghanistan has been invaded from all sides. Any outline of the History of Afghanistan will necessarily focus on vast armies of the world passing through the territory, temporarily establishing local control in an endless ‘tournament of shadows.’ "Frontiers are the razor's edge on which hang suspended the issue of war or peace and the life of nations.” –Lord Curzon
Pre-Historical (The Stone Age) Archaeologists have identified evidence of stone age technology around present day Kabul. Settlement remains at the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains indicate that Northern Afghanistan was one of the earliest places on earth to domesticate plants and animals.
Historical Firsts… Zoroastrianism - the world’s first monotheistic system of belief was founded in Afghanistan. Judaism and Christianity would later borrow many ideas from this religion (including that of Heaven and Hell). It has been indicated that Bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) may have been invented in ancient Afghanistan 3000 years BCE. Many Historians believe that the earliest great ‘civilizations’ (Babylonia, India, Egypt, Persia) were started by people (the Aryans) who migrated from and through Afghanistan.
Persian Ruins (Iran) The meaning of the word Iran is “the country of Aryans.” Iranians have always, from ancient times, referred to themselves as Aryans. This term has been used by Imperialist European nations (unjustly?) since the 1830s in an attempt to establish an historical link to the ancient cultures of the past.
Pre-Islamic Period (pre- 651 CE) Afghanistan's known pre-Islamic past began with Aryan invasions around 2000 BC and continued with Persian, Median and Greek conquests. Following the defeat of the Persians in 329 BC, Alexander the Great entered the territory of modern Afghanistan to capture Bactria (present- day Balkh). Invasions by the Scythians, White Huns, and Turks followed in succeeding centuries. During Kushan rule (100-250 CE), Afghanistan became a great center of culture and learning. When the Kushan Empire faded, The Sassanians and other Persian powers ruled most of Afghanistan until the coming of Muslim armies (mid-7th century CE).
Alexander in Persia Alexander the Great fighting the Persian king Darius (Pompeii mosaic, from a 4th century BC original Greek painting – now lost)
Islamic Conquests The invasion of Persia was complete five years after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. All of the Persian territories came under Arab control, though pockets of tribal resistance continued for centuries. During the 7th century CE, Arab armies from Sinai made their way into the region of Afghanistan with the new religion of Islam.
Islamic Empire? The Islamic conquest of Persia (637- 653) led to the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia. However, the achievements of the previous Persian civilizations were not lost, but were to a great extent absorbed by the new Islamic polity. Over the next 500 years, an Islamic culture took hold of the region (under the authority of a Caliphate), its influence extending in an uneasy empire from India to Spain.
The Mongols By 1219 the empire had fallen to the Mongols. Led by Genghis Khan, the invasion resulted in massive slaughter of the population, destruction of many cities, including Herat, Ghazni, and Balkh, and the despoliation of fertile agricultural areas. Following Genghis Khan's death in 1227, a succession of petty chiefs and princes struggled for supremacy until late in the 14th century, when one of his descendants, Timur Lang, incorporated what is today Afghanistan into his own vast Asian empire. Babur, a descendant of Timur and the founder of Moghul Empire at the beginning of the 16th century, made Kabul the capital. To the West, the territory fell into the hands of local warriors.
Lead into Modern Times Afghanistan was divided in many parts in the 16th, 17th and early 18th century. North were the Uzbeks, west was Safavid's rule and east was the Mughal's and local Pashtun rule. In 1709, the Pashtuns (Afghans) decided to rise against the Persian Safavids. The Persians were defeated very badly and the Afghans held Iran from 1719- 1729. Nadir Shah of Persia pushed back the Afghans. In 1738, Nadir Shah conquered Kandahar, in the same year he occupied Ghazni, Kabul and Lahore. After his death in 1747, the Durrani Pashtuns became the principal Afghan rulers.
The British Experience… Collision between the expanding British and Russian Empires significantly influenced Afghanistan during the 19th century in what was termed "The Great Game." British concern over Russian advances in Central Asia culminated in two Anglo-Afghan wars. "The Siege of Herat" 1837-1842, had the Persians trying to retake Afghanistan from the British. The siege resulted in the destruction of a British army, thus prompting the Great Empire to withdraw in disgrace. To this day, the battle for Herat is remembered as an example of the ferocity of Afghan resistance to foreign rule.
Independence Afghanistan remained neutral during World War I, despite German encouragement of anti-British feelings and Afghan rebellion along the borders of British India. The Afghan king's policy of neutrality was not universally popular within the country, however. In 1919, the King’s son and successor was assassinated, possibly by family members opposed to British influence. His third son only regained control of Afghanistan's foreign policy after launching the Third Anglo-Afghan War with an attack on India. During the ensuing conflict, the war-weary British forever relinquished their control over Afghan foreign affairs, signing the Treaty of Rawalpini in August 1919. In commemoration of this event, Afghans celebrate August 19th as their Independence Day.
Civil War and a Short Line of Kings Following a ten year civil war for control of the new state, Afghanistan entered into a period of relative stability and prosperity under the reigns of Nadir Shah and Zahir Shah (1929-1973). Zahir Shah (pictured right) became the youngest, longest-serving and last king of Afghanistan. You will remember these kings were mentioned in your novel...
Upheaval Amid the Cold War Amid charges of corruption against the royal family and poor economic conditions created by severe drought (1971-72), former Prime Minister Mohammad Daoud Khan seized power in a military coup on July 17, 1973. Zahir Shah fled the country, eventually finding refuge in Italy. Daoud abolished the monarchy, and declared Afghanistan a republic with himself as its first President and Prime Minister. His attempts to carry out badly needed economic and social reforms met with little success, and the new constitution promulgated in February 1977 failed to quell chronic political instability.
Upheaval Amid the Cold War 2 Disillusionment set in. On April 27, 1978, the communist PDPA (People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan) initiated a bloody coup, which resulted in the overthrow and murder of Daoud and most of his family. Nur Muhammad Taraki, Secretary General of the PDPA, became President of the Revolutionary Council and Prime Minister of the newly established Democratic Republic of Afghanistan - strongly supported by the USSR.
The PDPA Agenda The PDPA, as a Communist Party, implemented a socialist agenda which included decrees abolishing usury, banning forced marriages, state recognition of women’s rights to vote, replacing religious and traditional laws with secular and Marxist ones, banning tribal courts, and land reform. Men were obliged to cut their beards, women couldn't wear a burqa, and mosque visiting was forbidden. The PDPA invited the Soviet Union to assist in modernizing its economy. The USSR sent contractors to build roads, hospitals, schools and mine for water wells. They also trained and equipped the Afghan army.
The Russians Roll In These reforms and the PDPA's monopoly on power were met with a huge backlash, partly led by members of the traditional establishment. Many groups were formed in an attempt to reverse the dependence on the Soviet Union, some resorting to violent means and sabotage of the country's industry and infrastructure. The government responded with a heavy handed military intervention and arrested, exiled and executed many mujahideen: “holy muslim warriors". In 1979, the Afghan army was overwhelmed with the number of incidents, and the Soviet Union sent troops to crush the uprising. On December 25, 1979 the Soviet army entered Kabul, and installed a pro-Moscow government.
Resistance / Bad Tidings For over nine years the Soviet Army conducted military operations against the Afghan mujahideen rebels. The American CIA, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia assisted in the financing of the resistance because of their anti-communist stance, and, in the case of Saudi Arabia, because of their Islamist inclinations. Their efforts were eventually successful, and in February 1989, after ten bloody years the Soviet Union reluctantly withdrew its troops. The mujahideen had become a force to be reckoned with.
Public Enemy # 1 Among the foreign participants in the war against the Soviet Union was Osama bin Laden, whose organization trained mujahideen, and provided some arms and funds to fight the Soviets. Bin Laden, although only playing a limited part in this conflict, broke away with some of his more militant members to form Al- Qaeda (1988). His dream was to expand the anti- Soviet resistance effort into a worldwide Islamic fundamentalist movement.
The Taliban When the victorious mujahideen entered Kabul to assume control over the city and the central government, fighting soon began between the various militias, which had coexisted only uneasily during the Soviet occupation. With the demise of their common enemy, the militias' ethnic, clan, religious, and personality differences surfaced, and a second civil war ensued. In reaction to the anarchy and warlordism prevalent in the country, and the lack of Pashtun representation in the Kabul government, the Taliban, a movement of religious scholars and former mujahideen, emerged from the southern province of Kandahar. The Taliban took control of approximately 95% of the country by the end of 2000, limiting the opposition mostly to a small corner in the northeast.
Sept. 11 th, 2001 The Taliban were ardent supporters of Bin Laden’s Al- Qaeda network. They provided barracks and protection for his training camps. We all know where that lead…
Invasion Again In response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States and its allies (including Canada) launched an invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban government. Sponsored by the UN, Afghan factions met in Bonn, Germany and chose a 30 member interim authority led by Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun from Kandahar. After governing for 6 months, former King Zahir Shah returned to convene a Loya Jirga (council meeting), which elected Karzai as president and gave him authority to govern for two more years. On October 9, 2004, Karzai was elected as president of Afghanistan in the country's first ever presidential election.
Another Chapter Underway… Tension is again running high in his country with a resurrgence of the Taliban underway- Hamid Karzai is in a very difficult position poltically. Will he last? For our part, Canadian Troops increasingly encounter resistance in the South. Are we engaged in a war without end? The debate rages…
When you think of modern Afghanistan, know this… 30 years of continuous war has totally crippled the economy. In many parts of the country, one must try to survive day-by-day by scrounging enough food to eat. An average person faces a high chance of becoming blind or crippled simply because of the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables (malnutrition). Most people do not have the facilities to receive an education, nor do they have the facilities to receive medical treatment. Still, hundreds of thousands of people are maimed or disabled because of war and land mines. Illiteracy rates stand at 50%. Today, the average life-expectancy for males is 40 years. For females, it is 43 years.
Literacy According to UNESCO, the total literacy rate in Afghanistan in 2000 was 36.3 percent. The rate is 51 percent for males, and only 20.8 percent for females (because previous Taliban laws prevented the education of women). However, Persian poetry has played a significant role in Afghan culture since pre-Islamic times.
Pre-Islamic Period Persian literature dates as far back as 650 BCE, but most Zoroastrian writings were destroyed during the Islamic conquest of Iran Due to anti-Persian policies, Arabic became the primary language, but literature written in other languages by those of Persian descent is still considered to be “Persian”.
The Medieval Era Persian was revived during the Middle Ages, due in large part to Persian poet Ferdowsi, who wrote the Shahnama in 1000 AD. You should recall that a copy of this book was given to Amir as a birthday present from Ali in The Kite Runner.
The Middle Ages, cont’d. Poetry became an extremely important form in Persian literature, and could even be found in scientific or metaphysical texts. This was linked to a tradition of court (royal) patronage and panegyrics (public speeches of praise), which led to the emergence of epic poetry, the greatest of which can be found in the Shanama (or Shahnameh).
In addition to reviving the Persian language, this text is considered to be a literary masterpiece that reflects Iranian history, cultural values, ancient religions, and nationalism. Although the focus is on Iran, it is important to all Persian peoples, including those of Afghanistan.
The Shahnama Known as “The Epic of Kings”, the poem itself contains 62 stories and 990 chapters, consisting of 60,000 couplets, and is based on an earlier prose work by the same author. In general, the book recounts the history of Iran, though not necessarily in precise chronological order. Ferdowsi’s poetic style prevents the story from becoming a dry historial account. The characters (heroes, villains, and shahs) come and go, but the image of Greater Iran remains throughout.
The Shahnama The tragic story of Rostam and Sohrab can be found in the section devoted to the heroic age (which comprises about two thirds of the text). It has been turned into a famous opera and, more recently, an elaborate “puppet opera”. It is also the subject of a poem by English writer Matthew Arnold.
The Shahnama Ferdowsi did not expect his reader to pass over historical events indifferently, but asked him/her to think carefully, to see the grounds for the rise and fall of individuals and nations; and to learn from the past in order to improve the present, and to better shape the future. Ferdowsi stresses his belief that since the world is transient, and since everyone is merely a passerby, one is wise to avoid cruelty, lying, avarice, and other traditional evils; instead one should strive for justice, honor, truth, order, and other traditional virtues.
The Middle Ages, cont’d. In the thirteenth century, lyric (i.e. emotional) poetry became popular, particularly mystical and Sufi poetry. Much of this poetry was actually directed at young men – pages, slaves, and soldiers. Some leaders in this genre were Rumi, Sadi, and Hafez.
The Middle Ages, cont’d. A memorable prose epic from this era is One Thousand and One Nights, which includes the stories of Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Sinbad the Sailor. One important poetic form to emerge from this era was the ghazal (pronounced “guzzle”).
The Ghazal Originating in the 10 th century, and still important in Persian literature today, this type of poem involves a very strict structure, and traditionally deals with the subject of love. The term refers to the form of the poem, and can thus be composed in any language. It has evolved into a popular song form in India and Pakistan.
The Ghazal Popular themes include: Illicit unattainable love Sufism ("a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God”). Eventually, this form found its way into English poetry, and the world’s first anthology of English-language ghazals was published in 1996.
The Ghazal The form consists of a short lyric composed in a single metre with a single rhyme throughout. Often the poet’s pen name is incorporated into the last line in a creative way, in a tradition known as Maqta.
The 19 th Century A great change occurred when Prime Minister Amir Kabir expressed his concern that traditional poetic forms were detrimental to the “progress” and “modernization” of Iranian society. This led to a wave of comparative literature and literary criticism, adapted from Western culture.
The 20 th Century After returning to Afghanistan from exile in Turkey, Mahmud Tarzi began to publish a bi-weekly newpaper, which became an important part of the Afghan modernist movement. He was also the first to introduce the novel in Afghanistan, and translated many English novels.
The 20 th Century, cont’d. In the 1930s, the Herat Literary Circle and the Kabul Literary Circle published magazines dedicated to culture and Persian literature. Despite strong traditional influences, new styles did manage to evolve, and in 1962 a book of modern poetry was published in Kabul. Many emerging Afghanistani writers (such as Asef Soltanzadeh, Reza Ebrahimi, Ameneh Mohammadi, and Abbas Jafari) grew up in Iran and were under the influence of Iranian writers, which was evident in most of their work.Asef SoltanzadehReza Ebrahimi, Ameneh MohammadiAbbas Jafari
The 20 th Century, cont’d. Persian short stories have undergone an evolution from the formative period (with a focus on modernism), through a period of growth and development (with a focus on political and psychological issues), to a period of diversity (which involves a great deal of experimentation and change).
The 20 th Century, cont’d. After years of classical tradition, Nima Yushij introduced new forms of modern Persian poetry that involved much more freedom of structure and a focus on human and social existence. This led to a movement of “Sepid poetry”, which is a type of free verse.
Contemporary Literature Although Iranian literature has enjoyed more prominence worldwide, Afghanistani writers are beginning to emerge. The Kite Runner was the first novel to be written in English by an Afghan(- American) writer. Private poetry competitions events, known as “musha’era” are still held, even among ordinary people (i.e. not just published writers).