War, either in Afghanistan or in any other part of the world, is sadly a too well-known and a cruel phenomenon that has been haunting the lives and minds of individuals and nations alike since the beginning of history. We have been witnessing and learning about conflicts and wars of all kinds in many far away lands including Afghanistan, as well as on our doorsteps, so much so that it is misguidedly beginning to pose itself as a common occurrence in our lives, to hear of this or that atrocity, this suicide bombing or that explosion, going on day by day. Yet we must resist this commonplace “banality of evil”. Peace, not war, is the natural state for human beings to live in. It is the dialogue for peace that is crucial and should be kept alight and on offer to anyone practising the wrath of war, but not the virtue of peace. Peace, a significant, meaningful and a much missing word, is the biggest challenge of our times. The Academy promotes peace, pluralism, cooperation and dialogue to overcome violence and to appreciate universal human values. We believe war is the darkness and peace is the light and light always diminishes darkness in man and in society. As active citizens and as conscious human beings it is our responsibility to become peace ambassadors for ourselves, our family, neighbourhood, society, country and the world as a whole and to make war and violence a failure. War is always a failure, because each new war only creates new enemies, new widows and new hatred. Without doubt, it is peace that breathes within our souls, bodies, cultures, faiths and civilisations. From chaos and disunity, peace stands for the wholeness inside us human beings, which when attained, we can stand side by side and practise love and harmony through our thoughts, actions and words.
Without doubt, the arrival, formation and existence of any diaspora community has its own story and characteristics. With this in mind, therefore, for the majority of Afghans who have come to the West in different stages of wars and deadly conflicts, the scars and memories still carry many unimaginable deep terrifying effects. It is in these scenarios that education and the task of modern educators dealing, engaging and providing care and services to the refugees and victims are significantly crucial in every and each encounter with them, either being on a one-to-one dialogue level or in meetings, community gatherings or events. For the Academy, as an impartial, educational, cultural and social organisation in the UK, it has been exciting and rewarding to witness how our services, activities and initiatives have guided and benefited many Afghans of different ethnic backgrounds and beliefs. Even today, their genuine continuous support and involvement signifies their support and appreciation of our work. We have a unique collection of seminars and lectures by Afghan scholars on DVDs and always welcome your work and materials to enrich our archives and support our activities, projects, publications and our future broadcasting plans.
The Cambridge English Dictionary states that culture is, “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time”. In the words of E.B. Tylor, “culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” With this in mind, many westerners who have visited and stayed in Afghanistan, time after time, have confirmed the richness of Afghan culture and Afghan ways of life, including the generosity and hospitality that the Afghans show towards others and the honour and care that they hold and give to strangers and guests alike. The Academy promotes these values as the living core of real Afghan culture and identity and organises activities to reflect these values. The Academy’s ultimate goal is to strive towards a harmonious and peaceful human society for all and condemns and challenges the distorted images associated with Afghans as they have been portrayed by the wars and violence of the past few decades. The last four decades of wars and conflicts in Afghanistan have changed the face of the arts in the country and have influenced the rhetorical styles and values of Afghan poetry, literature, music, theatre, dance and cinema in a positive, as well as negative way. The styles and contents of Afghan arts are the expressions of Afghans’ lives in many different periods of time. For each and every artist, art can be a powerful tool to introduce and represent views, expressions and to some extent the means for struggling to achieve the wishes and dreams of individuals and the nation. Today, Afghan arts represent many different expressions with some central themes emerging: which includes the desire for peace, the sufferings of women and their struggles for freedom and social injustice, the wishes of youth and the new generations, as well as reflections on war and conflicts, the political turmoils, wide spread corruption, the failures and achievements of local and presidential elections, the possibility of reclaiming a sensible spiritual heritage out of the hands of extremism, and, of course, reflections on Afghan cultural heritage and the impact on Afghanistan of new trends and developments in international art movements. The birth of Afghan arts and artists in diaspora is another promising element in promoting arts amongst Afghans in the community. There are many Afghan artists outside Afghanistan and here in the UK, whose works and talents are enjoyed by many people in the society, who have been also participating in different occasions and events. The Academy has been promoting arts now for many years, supporting Afghan artists, organising events and opportunities for the Afghans and art enthusiasts in the community to get together in many different events and enjoy shows and exhibitions.
The undeniable power of media is a happy fact when it is used to improve the abilities of people by gaining more knowledge and information through education, culture, arts, sciences and technology for them, as well as enjoying entertainments and connecting with the world and other people. The developed countries have had this privilege a long time ago and yet some traditional mediums such as film, radio and television have been well over-taken by opportunities in the internet and other technologies and smart devices. Nevertheless, film, radio and television are still running high holding their grip on their markets. On the other hand, countries who did not have some or all of these privileges, now seem to have been enjoying almost the same technologies including the internet and smart devices though in a slower pace and average level. In Afghanistan, the four decades of war have destroyed nearly everything including the central government, the army and police forces, the infrastructure, as well as disrupting educational, cultural, economic, agricultural and farming systems. Even the natural nomad’s life has been damaged. In the last decade, many developments have taken place including the formation of an elected central government and the reform of and repair of government establishments and institutions. The boom in media development and progress in Afghanistan is a unique phenomena. Today, there are hundreds of radio and television stations, as well as daily, weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines are in circulation. The only negative aspect that has come to light is the war of the air-waves and the propaganda enjoyed by rival warlords and opposing political groups that have produced a negative aspect to all these new achievements. How to normalise the situation and avoid more conflicts, as well as eliminating extremism, are the urgent tasks for the Afghan government, as well as the international community and the NGOs who are providing opportunities and care and support to the masses. Within this spectrum, the Academy has been playing its part by providing educational and cultural services and activities which have proved to be facilitating the learning experience of diaspora communities in helping to advance awareness in the society. Our work continues to do so and we are constantly initiating new approaches. The Academy holds a unique collection of interviews, seminars and lectures by Afghan and other scholars in various different formats and always welcomes your work and materials to enrich our archives and support our activities, projects, publications and our future broadcasting plans.