On Monday, January 23, the Albany YMCA/Albany Library Brown Bag Lunch Speaker’s Forum presented Fariba Nawa.
Fariba Nawa is a journalist and the author of Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan. She also authored the report Afghanistan, Inc., and is a contributing writer to Under the Drones: Modern Lives in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Borderlands, to be published in spring 2012 by Harvard University Press. She writes for London’s Sunday Times Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, and numerous other publications. She holds a master’s in Middle Eastern studies and journalism.
Ms. Nawa wove her own life story into the fabric of Afghani history. Her family comes from a center of learning and culture in the south of the country. The people of the region speak Dari, a variant of Farsi. (The other official language of the country is Pashto.)
She began her talk by describing life in a war zone and her first glimpse of death. This event inspired her to become a war correspondent. (See video below.) Her family emigrated from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power, but her early experiences prompted her to return as an adult after the U.S.-led invasion of the country.
Though she continues to bear witness to positive changes in Afghani society. she has zeroed in on the continuing brutality and economic hardships which surround the opium trade. (Though much of the world’s opium comes from the country, it’s full-scale production into heroin and other drugs happens elsewhere.) Nawa describes how children become victims of adult power-relationships; young girls are sold into marriage to settle debts.
Opium Nation documents a global tragedy exacerbated by the greed and ignorance of those who have no concern for Afghanis and little knowledge of Afghanistan. Any audience that hears Fariba speak feels the sadness of her memory-laden journey. But we also feel her power and sense her determination to educate the world about the causes of the violence and the economic and social remedies needed to restore peace.