January 31, 2003

Come Back to Afghanistan

In January 2002, the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, spoke at Georgetown University. There he urged Afghan-Americans, especially young ones, to move back to Afghanistan.

Courtesy Hamid Karzai


In January 2002-- not long after the Taliban were driven from power in Afghanistan-- he came to the United States, partly to be on hand for the State of the Union address last year. And while he was here, he spoke with an audience that was mostly Afghan-Americans at Georgetown University. And he said to them, in Pashto and then in English, come back. Come back to Afghanistan. He directed this especially to the young people. (3 minutes)
Act One

Teenage Embed, Part One

It's possible that the very first teenager to heed his invitation was Hyder Akbar, 17, from Concord, California. In the summer of 2002, he travelled with his father to live in their home country. As luck would have it, he met a radio producer named Susan Burton before he left, and she gave him a tape recorder to take along. This show is devoted to his extraordinary recordings. In Kabul, Akbar learns to use a Kalashnikov and spends his days with his one-eyed war-hero uncle. By the end of the summer his father is appointed the official spokesman for the new Afghan government, which gives him insider's access to everything important that happens in Kabul. He meets warlords and sees the President. Hours after a bomb explodes in a market, he walks through the bloody, glass-strewn marketplace.

A year later, in the summer of 2003, Hyder returned to Afghanistan and recorded stories that are, if anything, even more amazing than the ones in this show. That show, Teenage Embed, Part Two, takes place in Kunar province, where Hyder's dad was appointed governor.

Susan Burton produced Hyder's audio diaries for the radio. Funding for her story came from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.