Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In the woodpile

In the West African country of Mali, Islamist extremists are spreading their virulent brand of Islam across the country. Mali has a rich tradition of cultural diversity and music, but if the fundamentalists prevail, all that will be destroyed. The same thing happened in Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban, which pronounced secular music "satanic." The Taliban banned music and ordered instruments destroyed. Mothers could not even hum to their children.  

I heard Andrew Solomon tell this story about Afghanistan during the dark time of the Taliban:

One musician could not bear to destroy his instrument, a relative of the lute called a sarinda. So he hid it in the woodpile behind his house. Whenever he went to gather wood he moved the sarinda deeper into the woodpile. His fingers ached to play it, but the penalty for playing a musical instrument was death by stoning, so he never did. And when the Taliban fell, the musicians had a party, and this man played his sarinda for 13 hours without stopping. 

Andrew Solomon was at that party. He said they played the kind of music you can only play "after you have known five years of silence."  

Can't you just hear it? 


Katherine Dunn said...

Yes....thank you for sharing this.

Monisima's Life in the Philippines said...

I've been missing your stories. This one is really beautiful. Gonna share it on my FB:) Thanks!

Heidi K. Rettig said...