Afghan heritage

Published October 1, 2011

IT is heartening to note that Kabul's National Museum has been given a new lease of life 10 years after it had been robbed of its treasures and the building destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. According to a report, the US has lent a helping hand by providing $5m for the construction of a new building, and Dutch archaeological experts are busy piecing together the salvaged relics. Newly discovered relics are being added to the museum's permanent collection. All this bodes well for a country that has been through long bouts of war and destruction over the past many decades. That the Afghan government and the people are admiring the efforts being made by western experts to showcase their heritage for the benefit of both Afghans and the international community is hopefully a sign of a rekindling of civilisation amidst the ruins. Reports suggest that the people are rediscovering their ancient including pre-Islamic heritage, owning it and feeling proud of it.

Custodians of one of the world's most ancient civilisations that existed at the crossroads of the ancient Chinese and Persian empires with historical continuity, Afghans have been through much hardship as their country plunged into disarray after the Soviet invasion and the occupation of Afghanistan in 1979. They endured decades of civil war that followed, and then the brutal regime of the Taliban who embarked on a policy of destroying the country's precious relics, including famous giant Buddhas carved into a mountain at Bamiyan. Thus, breathing life into the museum in Kabul is a major step forward in reconnecting with a heritage that Afghans had been denied and locked out of. Afghanistan's rich ancient past would inspire much confidence in the present and future of that country if the rebuilding effort continues unhampered.

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