Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Towards 2014

During 2013 I've been touring mainly Italy with my performance on FGM The Cut-Lo Strappo, which many of you know it was done out of the women's collective Gugu Women Lab during 2011 in Cape Town. It has been a huge experience meeting and confronting with different kind of audiences and it has been rewarding receiving the applause especially from the youth who generally ignores what Female Genital Mutilation is about.
When I started working with the women of the GWL, I didn't know, at the very beginning, that we were going to work on this subject, it was after our meetings that one of our sisters' participants, Haregu, came to me and asked if in our work we could write and talk about human rights, if there could be a possible "space" for Female Genital Mutilation. It wasn't an easy move for Haregu. But she came forward and she took her responsibility sharing her experience within the group becoming so far, an inspiration for others who had passed the same experience and decided to unveil their pain and share it with the group. This turning point menat lots of things. Realizing that words, art, imagination cannot just heal but also rise awareness and be synonymous of taking action, was the greatest satisfaction for me as a writer and activist. Having the chance to write about the long journey from innocence, pain, struggle, rejection and sharing it has been a great privilege and made stronger my belief that Art can tell better than any other fomr of comunication. Art has the mystical power to engage one person to its deepest feelings. 


Yes, the year passed fast as usual when you keep yourself busy and so many ideas, projects, deadlines, dreams get crowded in your life schedule. Next year will be as much busy as possible. I will continue one more semester to promote The Cut in Europe which has a new version where live music is performed by wonderful maestros of Kora, Djembee and Nguni, which perfectly fits the lines of the text  and kindle people's deep emotions.
Promoting human rights and awareness on FGM means to me, as an artist, as a woman, as an educator and as a mother, being able to create  and inspire a public dialogue which can get rid of stereotypes, prejudices.

This year I also received attention for The Cut by a university student in the South of Italy who filled a part of her thesis degree with a profile on my work and this made me once again aware of how much youth matters in contributing to the public dialogue on FGM.
As a volounteer of Amnesty  the same student linked me to the organization who showed interest in my work which is a good premise for a possible future collaboration. 
I also got interest from some students in the University of Nairobi who asked me about my work and who are willing to create a dialogue on FGM among their friends to understand how is the perception of FGM in urban-educated Kenya. 


GET THE CUT-LO STRAPPO PUBLISHED IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES

Many people in the audiences I've met, asked me where they could purchase a copy of the poetry-play (don't think there is a precise category whcih can fit the text) and because the text it has not been published yet, I had in mind to do so and also, to make it available to members of different communities, I thought it will be nice to publish it in three or four languages so that it can be a valid tool for educators, parents, students and for all who want to know better and have a wider understanding on FGM. I'm not sure how all this will come to reality, but one of my purposes of 2014 is to have the text published so that it can reach as many people as possible in different countries. 




Saturday, 28 December 2013

Italian Studies in Southern Africa

A selection of my poems have been published in the 2nd issue of 2013 of Studi di Italianistica nell'Africa australe/Italian Studies in Southern Africa.

Una selezione di miei poesie inedite è stata pubblicata sul numero 2/2013 di Studi di Italianistica nell'Africa australe/Italian Studies in Southern Africa.






Index/Sommario 
Unpublished  Texts/ Inediti
Valentina Acava Mmaka,  Poesie
Articles / Saggi
Franco Arato,   “Letteratura e diritto. Spunti sull’oratoria forense in Italia tra Cinque e Settecento”
Enrico Vettore,    “Voyage in Italy”: Roberto Rossellini’ s Non–Dualistic View of the World 
and Cinema”
MarcoVito de Virgilio,    ”L’esilio e la frontiera nell’italianità letteraria”
Notes and Gleanings / Note e curiosità
Giuseppe De Marco, “Trame di viaggio: la centralità di Siena «Matria» e lo sguardo icastico 
di Mario Luzi” (con una nota commemorativa di Angelo Maria Vitale)
Book reviews / Recensioni
Giona Tuccini,  ”Spiriti cercanti. Mistica e santità in Boine e Papini” (Mara Boccaccio)



Friday, 22 November 2013

THE CUT PERFORMED IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN COSENZA - THE CUT E GLI STUDENTI DEL LICEO "LUDOVICA DELLA VALLE" DI COSENZA

Valentina Acava Mmaka
On Wednesday the 20th I was in Cosenza, in the deep South of Italy, presenting together with musician DARIO CASTIELLO,  the poetic-musical performance THE CUT - LO STRAPPO in front of an audience of High School students (Liceo Ludovica della Valle- Cosenza). The event organized by MOCI Ngo, has been such a nice experience, as it always is when it comes to meet students. 
Some of the students (who I still thank) shared the stage with us  and they were very impressed by the words and the extraordinary music of the KORA and DJEMBE  played by Dario Castiello.
Bringing THE CUT in schools is part of a huge project next to accomplish, which is to create a public dialogue on Female Genital Mutilation which is still a taboo.
Art is the unique language through which Human Rights can be promoted especially among youth.

SCHOOLS AND ASSOCIATIONS WHO ARE WILLING TO PROMOTE THIS EVENT ALL OVER EUROPE CAN WRITE AND ASK THE PROJECT  TO valentinammaka(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Dario Castiello and his instruments
Mercoledì 20 novembre ho presentato, insieme al musicista DARIO CASTIELLO, la performance poetico musicale THE CUT- LO STRAPPO a Cosenza di fronte ad una numerosa platea di studenti (Liceo Ludovica della Valle).  L'evento organizzato da MOCI - ONG  è stata una bellissima esperienza, come lo è sempre quando si tratta di incontrare studenti interessati e motivati.
Alcuni studenti (che ringrazio ancora) hanno condiviso il palco con noi condividendo le emozioni del testo e della straordinaria musica di Dario con la sua KORA e lo DJEMBE.
Entrare nelle scuole con THE CUT - LO STRAPPO è parte di un grande progetto finalizzato alla creazione di un dialogo pubblico sulle Mutilazioni Genitali Femminili  che sono ad oggi ancora un tabù.
L'Arte, molto più di qualsiasi  documentario di stampo socio-antropologico, è il linguaggio che meglio riesce ad arrivare alle corde sensibili di ciascuno, giovani e meno giovani.

LE SCUOLE CHE SONO INTERESSATE A PRESENTARE IL PROGETTO NEI PROPRI ISTITUTI, LE ASSOCIAZIONI CHE INTENDONO ORGANIZZARE LA PERFORMANCE COINVOLGENDO GLI STUDENTI DELLE SCUOLE, POSSONO RICHIEDERE IL PROGETTO A: valentinammaka(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Some photos shot in Cosenza

MOCI ong

Dario Castiello 




On stage with the students


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

THE CUT - LO STRAPPO A SCUOLA A COSENZA 20 NOVEMBRE

A Cosenza il 20 novembre alle ore 10.00 presso il Cine Teatro Italia "A.Tieri" Valentina Acava Mmaka incontra gli studenti delle scuole superiori dove presenterà il Progetto di Scrittura che sta dietro alla performance THE CUT - LO STRAPPO. Seguirà il reading del testo con l'accompagnamento musicale del Maestro di Kora DARIO CASTIELLO (Associazione Matoké) che suonerà diversi strumenti tra cui la Kora, Nguni, Djembee. Un viaggio in parole e musica per parlare di Mutilazioni Genitali Femminili e Diritti Umani.  


Dopo la prima parte del tour di The Cut - Lo Strappo , è finalmente arrivato il momento di  entrare nelle scuole, incontrare gli studenti. Le MGF sono spesso ancora un tabù in molte società nel mondo. Creare un dialogo pubblico capace di smontare luoghi comuni, sanare pregiudizi e creare uno spazio entro cui confrontarsi con questa esperienza che coinvolge circa 140 milioni di donne in tutto il mondo, è di fondamentale importanza. Una questione urgente che riguarda tutti indistintamente nei cinque continenti. Ogni giorno, senza saperlo,  incrociamo o semplicemente sfioriamo  le vite di donne che sono state o saranno vittime delle MGF, è un dovere civile conoscere e lavorare per promuovere i diritti umani di queste donne che possono essere nostre compagne di studi, amiche, vicine di casa, conoscenti, mogli, fidanzate...
La Scuola per prima, ha il dovere di creare occasioni di dialogo e confronto sulle Mutilazioni Genitali Femminili anche in un più ampio contesto della violenza di genere e come tema di diritti umani.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Scrivere OLTRE LE FRONTIERE

Oltre le frontiere - Laboratorio di Scrittura Online


Scrivere Oltre le frontiere è un Laboratorio di Scrittura online suddiviso in 10 sessioni mensili della durata di 32 ore ciascuna per tutti gli appassionati di scrittura e scrittori curiosi  in giro per il mondo. Ogni mese il laboratorio avrà un tema specifico su cui lavorare.




QUANDO

La data di inizio è il 14 ottobre, tutti i partecipanti riceveranno una mail con le prime indicazioni, bibiliografia, esercizi.

COSTO

€ 32

PERCHE’

In una società mondiale che ci definisce disegna e ridisegna frontiere e confini oggettivi e soggettivi, dove l’uomo si percepisce in base a queste definizioni, scrivere oltre le frontiere vuole essere un’esperienza di incontro, dialogo, confronto sull’essere nel quotidiano in relazione ai luoghi, un’occasione per riflettere e tradurre in materia letteraria il percorso indentitario di ciascuno.


CHI

Il laboratorio è rivolto a tutti gli appassionati di viaggio, scrittori curiosi in giro per il mondo, inclusi  migranti, nomadi, viaggiatori sedentari, esploratori insaziabili, sognatori, speleologi della cultura, sradicati o in cerca di radici e a tutti gli scrittori professionisti, principianti e di ogni livello intermedio possono prendere parte a questo laboratorio.

DOVE

Essendo un laboratorio virtuale, potete essere ovunque nel mondo:
 -  Siete in vacanza in Irlanda cercando di terminare il Vostro prossimo romanzo
 -  Siete in trasferta lavoro in India o in Nuova Zelanda
 -  State fotografando I tempi buddisti in India
 -  Siete in Giappone per imparare il giapponese o in Thailandia per insegnare l’italiano
 -  State….


COSA

Di cosa avete bisogno per partecipare:

·  Ricevere, creare documenti Microsoft Word e e-mail.
·  Accesso alla posta elettronica
·  Leggere e Scrivere in Italiano (Anche se l’Italiano non è la tua lingua madre, l’importante è che tu ne abbia confidenza)

ANTEPPRIMA

· Vedere (guardiamo sempre, ma vedere è una competenza che si impara)
· Esplorare le possibili connessioni culturali, confronto tra idee e modi di percepire diversi
· Migliorare il rapporto con il luogo in cui vivi
· Cercare un “luogo” in cui sentirsi a casa senza barrier né confine
· Ridefinire la propria identità attraverso il processo creativo
· Allenare l’immaginario
· Trovare la propria voce da mettere sulla pagina
· Riconoscere ed esercitare la propria voce nella scrittura
· Confrontarsi con altri scrittori in giro per il mondo (grazie anche a diverse piattaforme web)
· Imparare a scrivere una prima stesura
· Leggere e criticare il lavoro dei tuoi colleghi (optional)


COME FUNZIONA

PRIMA FASE

Il 14 ottobre riceverai via mail:
· Una lista bibliografica di libri, film, musica da “consultare” – Tutto sarà facilmente accessibile in biblioteche o in internet. Questo supporto vi darà l’opportunità di prendere confidenza con la tematica del mese.
· Un invito a diventare un membro del gruppo Pinterest del laboratorio dove potrai condividere immagini, frasi, scritti che possono esserti di ispirazione
· Durante le 32 ore di laboratorio potrete chattare con me e altri scrittori via Twitter #32oltrelefrontiere. Mentre leggi, scrivi e riscrivi puoi trovare spunti di ispirazione. Confrontarsi con altri significa anche animare una comunità mondiale di scrittori.

SECONDA FASE

Dopo il primo contatto del 14 ottobre, avrete 32 ore per lavorare. Poi mi invierete via mail gli esercizi assegnati. Una volta corretti ve li rimanderò in tempi brevi.


PERCHE’ FREQUENTARE IL LABORATORIO

·Avrete la guida e l’interazione con uno scrittore affermato, con un viaggiatore esperto, con chi coordina da anni laboratori di scrittura
·Avere la possibilità di condividere i propri lavori e le proprie esperienze con altri scrittori ovunque voi siate
·Avere l’opportunità di esplorare il tuo ambiente, ampliare i confini della tua percezione, dislocarsi e ridefinire la propria identità attraverso la scrittura
·Far parte di una comunità mondiale eterogenea
·Avere l’opportunità di ampliare le proprie conoscenze e competenze


L'AUTRICE


Valentina Acava Mmaka  nata a Roma e cresciuta in Sudafrica ha pubblicato in Italia sette libri variando dalla letteratura per bambini: Il mondo a colori della famiglia BwanaVal (Kabiliana 2002); Jabuni: il mistero della città sommersa (EMI 2003), I nomi della Pace Amani (EMI 2004); testi teatrali Io ... donna...immigrata... volere dire scrivere (EMI 2004), The Cut- Lo Strappo (di prossima pubblicazione); poesia L'ottava nota (PROSPETTIVA 2002); romanzi Cercando Lindiwe (EPOCHE' 2007), Il Viaggio Capovolto  (EPOCHE' 2010). 
Da oltre quindici anni svolge attività di mediazione interculturale e coordina laboratori di scrittura interculturale in Italia e all'estero. 
Diverse tesi di laurea sono state dedicate alla sua opera e alla sua vita vissuta tra culture. Partecipa in qualità di relatrice a convegni, conferenze, tavole rotonde, festival letterari... Nel 2011 ha fondato in Sudafrica un collettivo di donne il Gugu Women Lab con il quale ha lavorato ad un progetto di scrittura legato alla promozione dei diritti umani. 
Da marzo 2013 ad oggi ha portato in tour in Italia lo spettacolo THE CUT-LO STRAPPO sulle mutilazioni genitali femminili. 
E' fondatrice del progetto KABILIANA, uno spazio virtuale dove si parla di diversità e multiculturalismo. IL progetto sostiene la costruzione di biblioteche sostenibili là dove ce n'è bisogno. 


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

PERIDIRITTIUMANI

Un mio intervento su PERIDIRITTIUMANI.
Condividete







E' cominciata la nostra campagna di sottoscrizione per sostenere il progetto del Film Breaking The Cut. Abbiamo bisogno del vostro sostegno. 
Diventate co-produttori di questo film sostenendoci con una quota. Cliccate sulla nostra pagina INDIEGOGO oppure visitando il sito di SOGGETTO NOMADE ASSOCIAZIONE  .

L'importanza di questo progetto è indiscutibile. Le mutilazioni genitali femminili (MGF) sono un problema che riguarda tutti noi da vicino.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Scrivere Oltre le Frontiere

A richiesta di alcuni amici - scrittori - viaggiatori che della geografia del mondo hanno come me una certa esperienza, nasce  l'idea di dare vita ad un Laboratorio di Scrittura online "Scrivere oltre le frontiere". Il Laboratorio avrà una cadenza mensile e durerà 32 ore al mese (#32scritturaoltrefrontiere), e ogni mese sarà dedicato ad un tema diverso da cui trarre spunto per le proprie letture, elaborati, riflessioni.
In una società mondiale che ci definisce disegna e ridisegna frontiere e confini oggettivi e soggettivi, dove l’uomo si percepisce in base a queste definizioni, scrivere oltre le frontiere vuole essere un’esperienza di incontro, dialogo, confronto sull’essere nel quotidiano in relazione ai luoghi, un’occasione per riflettere e tradurre in materia letteraria il percorso indentitario di ciascuno.
Aggiornamenti in arrivo.
Il laboratorio è rivolto a tutti gli appassionati di viaggio, scrittori curiosi in giro per il mondo, inclusi  migranti, nomadi, viaggiatori sedentari, esploratori insaziabili, sognatori, esploratori, sradicati o in cerca di radici e a tutti gli scrittori professionisti, principianti e di ogni livello intermedio, possono prendere parte a questo laboratorio.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

An authentic portrait of Afghanistan...


 
The first time I met Bashir Sakhawarz was in 2005 in Ferrara, Italy, where we were both  hosts of the Migrant Literary Festival Voci del Silenzio together with other artists coming from all over the world.
Since that time Bashir and I have always kept in touch, I remember asking him to let me read his work, I remember sending him mails saying he should give space to his talent, as he is a good writer.  I translated a very compelling piece for an Italian literary magazine (STILOS) which had the first full page for its reflection on 9/11 from an Afghan point of view. Then I read his first novel in English “ Maargir. The snake charmer”, and what I sensed before, I knew it for real, Bashir is a good writer. Yes, he is.
Divided between science (he is an engineer) and literature, Bashir has started in his very early years using pen and paper. He first published on Kabuli magazines at the age of 17. There were poems mostly inspired by Rumi.
It will be unfair to read his work without taking into consideration his exile experience and migration to UK from Afghanistan during the Russian invasion of the country.
I couldn’t miss the chance to interview in the occasion of the recent release of  “Maargir. The snake charmer” an enlightening novel about Afghanistan the way we haven’t read yet. 

VALENTINA ACAVA MMAKA - Where does your story begin?
BASHIR SAKHAWARZ - I was born in Kabul. Those days when someone was born, the family celebrated the birth with joy, laughter and music. When I was born women played daff, the drum sang some songs and my mother stayed in bed for 40 days, not because she was sick, but because it was the custom and only on the 40th day which is called chela goraiz ( leaving 40 days behind in Persian language). My mother was allowed to get off the bed and start normal life of being a house wife but until then mother was allowed to relax, eat chicken soup for 40 days and let the other women do the cooking and cleaning. In those days there were plenty of aunts who were eager to help.
My uncle named me Bashir, (the good news in Arabic language) and I was indeed the god news because I was born after the death of a lovely sister who left a deep sorrow in the heart of my father. My birth, somehow, reduced the sorrow. I was the second child now but born the third after two girls which one died before I was born. My father was a simple employee of the government and my mother was a house wife.
Death in those days in  Kabul was very rare and when it happened, it left a big mark in the heart of the loved ones. The first major death was the death of my uncle from my mother’s side. He was very young and died when he was crossing the road struck by a lorry. Uncle Noor left a very deep scar in the heart of mother and she never recovered after that. In those days deaths were of natural causes or car accidents. The second death of another uncle was of a natural cause. He died of appendicitis. Natural? Yes natural. He died in his village in Nijrab and was not sent to the hospital. The doctor heard of the case later and told my father that he died of a very simple illness. My mother was devastated this time. Fortunately after these two deaths that my mother lost his only brothers, there was no death but plenty of births. After me, six more children were born and we became a very big family of 8 children.

VALENTINA ACAVA MMAKA - And then?
At the age of six I went to school. I hated it because I was bullied, and started to like it after the fourth grade, when I was able to read the history of our country. The history was written in a storytelling way and since that time, history remained my favourite subject. It was history which made me to read stories.

Tell me the memory of your childhood you are more attached to?
BASHIR SAKHAWARZ - During school holiday we went to Nijrab, where my mother comes from. It was here that I learned about love, nature, poetry and music. Boys were the best singers and they dedicated their songs to beautiful girls. At night we sat on the rooftops where my cousins and relatives sang songs, girls cooked and my aunt Shahla told us amazing stories. They were love stories such as “Arab Bacha wa moghal dokhtar, the Arab boy and Moghal girl” The story was in poetry form.

I have two hundred horses
I have two hundred wild servants
With god’s will
I would give them all to Moghal dokhtar
Come my dear Moghal
Come my bunch of flowers

Or:

Moghal dokhtar is in the garden
I can see her without a warden
She is under the wine tree
Very happy and care free

Girls and boys of Nijrab were wild. They waited for the corns to grow tall in the field and they met there where no one could see them. There was no inhibition in those days. With water everywhere boys and girls bathed together. I saw firm breasts those days but did not pay attention. We did not know the difference between boys and girls. At night we gazed at the clear sky full of shiny stars. My favourite was a bunch of star called haft dokhtaraan ( seven girls). In the distance someone played flute and Khala Shahla told us that it was the sound of love. Someone was in love and could not sleep the whole night.


VALENTINA ACAVA MMAKA - This is the time you started writing?
BASHIR SAKHAWARZ - Yes. Coming back to Kabul was a nightmare. I missed Nijrab and may be out of this feeling I found a new talent in myself. I started writing stories and sent them to our only magazine for children, Anis-e Atfaal. In those days father gave me two Afghanis as my pocket money. I kept this money until Friday when the children magazine was published. I was delighted seeing my stories published which I showed them to my classmates but none of them believed  that those stories were mine. At the age of 17 my stories, poems and articles were published in grown up magazines. My articles were about history of Afghanistan, my poems were very similar to poems of Rumi because I was reading his poetry every day and my stories were influenced by leftist writers, mainly covering a topic of poor people struggling against the rich people.  I continued writing until the communist regime took control of the country and restricted the publication of those materials which were written by those who were not communist. Fortunately the radio accepted my poems to be broadcasted, especially those which were influenced by Rumi.

Kabul

I create you
Through the sadness of the time
Through the heat of evaporation
Through the dust of none returned caravans
Through the soul of stone
Through oceans of stillness.

I create you
Behind my closed window
Behind sleepy eyes
In the darkness of being
In the boundary of shadows.

Kabul
Just two syllabus
Just two syllabus and yet an ocean
Without it oceans are empty

Balahisar
The highest fortress
An old man with crashed shoulders

Chehelstoon
Shaky faulty tower
Once a nest of singing birds
Today naked without soul
Naked without song
Raped by avalanche

Bagheballa
A hanging garden
A hanged life

Kabul
I create you like a poet
On the back of my poetry book
On my walks
On my talks
On my deserted Island
I create you with poetry, wine, dust, stillness, happiness, time, laughter, repetition, sadness.

Kabul
My mistress hidden in torn clothes
My lover in my cold bed

Kabul
I create you with a single tear

Kabul
A two syllabus word
A journey of history
Without you Rustam not born
Without you Buddha in sky
Without you Mahabarat not written

Kabul
A silent eye
In a quiet sky
A virgin in solitude
A raped widow
A paradox
A picnic garden of the Americans
A goal post of Russians
A melting pot of bad guys Taliban
Good guys Mujahideen
A rainbow of peace
A circus
A laughter ha ha ha
Haha and ha ha ha
A laughter of a drunken man with no tune
No rhythm
A forgotten woman
A bride of thousand men

Kabul
A diary of adventures
A travelling man
Racing through curves
                                               Valleys
Mountains
Oceans
Sky
Feelings
Loneliness
Solitude


Kabul
A book of tragedy
A story within story
I see you in distance
I feel you under my skin
Tonight I sleep with you Kabul.

VALENTINA ACAVA MMAKA - Life went smooth till...
BASHIR SAKHAWARZ - It was a very cold December morning when I got up from bed to go to the bakery to buy some freshly baked bread for the family. As I reached the roundabout near our house I saw a big army tank with a man who was wearing a Russian hat on top of it. I stared at the man and he stared back. I bought the bread, went back home and told father about the tank and the man with the Russian hat. “God has mercy up on us,” father said.
What happened?” I asked. “Go and bring the radio.” I brought the radio and father switched it on. It was Babrak Karmal the communist leader who was saying that the Soviet Union army has come to Afghanistan to save revolution from the hand of enemy. My father said that Babrak Karmal was in Tajikistan and he was broadcasting his message from there. Amazing the man himself was in Soviet Union and the Red Army was in Kabul in full control of our streets. I knew Babrak Karmal very well. Many years ago he came to our mosque during Friday prayer and told us about danger of enemies behind the mountains who were trying to invade our country. Ironically the person, who warned us about the enemy, brought the enemy from across the river. With Red Army on the streets, revolution started to heat up. I was university student at that time and very angry young man. My anger was not directed to Soviet Union. I was angry with my mother for forcing me to study science. There were only eight girls in my class of 120 students while classes of the faculty of literature had more than 60% girls. With the invasion of my country by the Soviet Union there was no time for romance.  My classmates were put to prison and I never saw them again. Villages were bombed and refugees left out country for Iran and Pakistan. But I didn’t have any plan to leave the country. After university I even joined the army. Fortunately I was not active in fighting anybody. I was posted in army publishing house writing articles for the army. My service supposed to be 6 months. I served 8 months and then I heard that the communists wanted all graduates to serve for at least 3 years. That was it. I decided to leave. I did not want to fight on either side. I did not believe in Russian communism and in Mujahidin jihad.

VALENTINA ACAVA MAKA - How did you escape?
BASHIR SAKHAWARZ - The night that I decided to leave Kabul was snowing heavily. I was in my army compound. I waited until my turn for guarding the compound started. Midway during my duty, I left my papasha gun under my blanket and left the dormitory. Outside a guide to take me to Pakistan was waiting for me. We walked for five days and night to cross the border and many times I cursed myself for leaving the country like this. I was exhausted. The only thing which was pushing me to walk was the fear of being captured by the army. If was captured I would have been shot at the spot for deserting my army post.
After reaching Pakistan I realised what I have done to myself. I saw tugs on the streets of Peshawar called themselves Mujahidin. They had long hair, long beard and some of them holding hands with young boys. It was worse than any western movie and more dangerous than anywhere in the world.

VALENTINA ACAVA MMAKA -What hurted you most of that time?
BASHIR SAKHAWARZ - Poverty was another thing which was crashing my soul. I came to Pakistan without money and getting a job was impossible. How could I get a job in a country where half of its population was out of job? I was forced to eat rotten bananas. I could get 6 bananas for the price of ata aana or half rupee. Poverty, depression and lack of good food and clean water to drink made me seriously sick and I became of a victim of typhoid. Just by miracle when I was almost dead because my body temperature reached 42 degree Celsius, a friend met an Afghan doctor who lived in USA and had come to Pakistan to work as a doctor, helping Afghan refugees. The doctor came to my house which was a shack and immediately diagnosed that I was suffering from typhoid. He asked me to come to his clinic which was a very hard thing to do because I could not walk. That was 1982. I want to see that doctor to thank him because he saved my life, but so far I have not found him. I was cured of the illness but not finding job and poverty made me very depressed. One day I heard that a friend from school had arrived in Peshawar. I went to see him. He was a very intelligent man. When we met we both started to complain about communists in Afghanistan and the Mujahidin in Pakistan.  “You know there is a cow with big eyes but almost blind and there is eagle with tiny eyes which can see the fish in the sea from the sky. Unfortunately our people belong to the cow type. We are people with big eyes but all of us blind,” - He said. And then he gave me an address of a famous Afghan writer called Majroh and advised me to see him to get a job with him. Majroh had also come from USA and opened an office to produce magazines in three languages, Farsi, Pashto and English. He was covering the war in Afghanistan.
Majroh had a very beautiful house at the middle of expensive area of Peshawar where foreigners lived. People told me some international organisations helped him to pay for his expenses. I didn’t care who was paying him. All I wanted was to have a job and to have a job as a writer was most desirable for me. Majroh interviewed me and agreed to give me a job provided I pass written examination whereby he would choose a topic and I would write about that topic. I was ready to take the test there and then but he told me that he was not free at that moment and I could come next week. When I left Majroh's house, for the first time I was excited. I knew that I would pass the test easily. As usual I walked towards home which was a distance of more than 10 kilometres under hot sun, when my mind went blank. The next time that I opened my eyes I was in the hospital. It was after three days. Apparently on the way home a car hit me on the pedestrian path. How that can happen? Pedestrian path is only for the pedestrian. But this was Peshawar, the wildest part of the world and anything could happen. The driver had disappeared and I was brought to the hospital by some kind people.  
It took me long time to recover and during this time another friend give me the address of a construction company to apply for a job of foreman to supervise the activities of the labourers. The payment was slightly more than what the labourers were getting. I worked there for more than six months but when the construction of the building that I was working on was over, I lost my job. By this time I was tired of life all together, let alone being tired of Peshawar. So I decided to do what only a madman would do. I used half of my saving and bought a bicycle and the other half paid for the membership of the only swimming pool in Peshawar which was in Intercontinental Hotel. The bicycle was bought for me to cycle there because there was no bus going that way. Total madness. Spending all my money on bicycle and swimming pool membership had one meaning. It was like destroying all the bridges behind. Basically I wanted to spend whatever I had and then go back to Afghanistan and I knew going there meant death but somehow that death seemed to be with dignity. In less than two weeks I lost my bicycle. Some thieves stolen it from where I locked it near the entrance of the hotel, but I did not care anymore. It was going to disappear soon anyway once I left Pakistan which was going to be after my membership was expired and that was for one month only.

VALENTINA ACAVA MMAKA - How did you feel when you reached England?
BASHIR SAKHAWARZ - I felt I have come to paradise when I reached South Devon in UK. Beaches were full of naked women and pubs full of beer but my happiness was short because soon my whole family, my parents with seven children became refugees in Pakistan and I had to study and then work in restaurants until midnight to save money and send it to them in Pakistan. Ten years later when I had a good job in England, I started writing again. But my writing sometimes became secondary to my work . I worked in England for five years and then I went to work in many developing countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kosovo and Belize. Now I am in Geneva and the beauty tranquillity of this country helped me to write none stop. I am writing every day, thanks to Geneva.

VALENTINA ACAVA MMAKA -What were your feelings leaving Afghanistan, being an exiled?

BASHIR SAKHAWARZ - I was worried mainly about my writing. Will I be able to write again after leaving Afghanistan? I was worried about my books that I will not see them anymore. I had developed my own library. It was small but had the best books available at the time. And of course I left my child there and by that I mean my first collection of poetry. I never saw that child again.

VALENTINA ACAVA MMAKA - What did you feel when you returned to your country?
BASHIR SAKHAWARZ - It was not the country that I lived 21 years ago. The war replaced kindness, generosity, love, humanity that the Afghans were famous for with hate, cheat, corruption, lie and many other problems. Going back to Afghanistan, helped me to accept the world as my homeland. Now I love UK. While before I was always homesick. I don’t call Afghanistan as my home any more. 


Monday, 17 June 2013

The Cut-Lo Strappo. Una serata per Emergency a Ferrara

Questa sera alle 21.00 The Cut - Lo Strappo si trasferisce a Ferrara. La serata è dedicata a Emergency per sostenere il potenziamento del reparto pediatrico dell'ospedale di Port Sudan.

This evening The Cut will be in Ferrara. the evening supports the pediatric hospital of Port Sudan run by Emergency.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Saturday, 25 May 2013

THE CUT I Lo Strappo Shots

Il tour ti The Cut I Lo Strappo continua, io e Nella abbiamo appena lasciato le Marche, dove abbiamo fatto  tappa a Senigallia e Ancona .
Ringrazio infinitamente il team del Centro Interculturale Le Rondini di Senigallia capitanato da Anna del Moro che ci ha offerto una splendida serata permettendoci di presentare lo spettacolo nella suggestiva cornice dell'Auditorium di San Rocco, davvero molto bello. In questa tappa ci hanno accompagnato sei amiche simpaticissime che hanno interagito sul palco con Nella, grazie ancora. E un grazie speciale a Katherine per la sua musica direttamente dalla Nigeria, ha suonato per noi l 'udu. Grazie a Stefania e Manuela per le fotografie e la calorosa ospitalità. E grazie alla compagnia delle donne con cui abbiamo cenato, confrontarsi è sempre una grande palestra di relazionalità.
Ecco una breve intervista fatta da Radio Velluto di Senigallia

 
 
Ad Ancona mi ha fatto particolarmente piacere essere intervistata da uno studente del secondo anno di Lettere dell'Università di Bologna, che sogna di diventare un giornalista e che collabora ad una pubblicazione distribuita nelle Marche, l' "URLO". Le sue domande intelligenti e mirate hanno lasciato intendere che la gavetta da futuro giornalista, è iniziata bene. Il mio ottimismo cresce quando sono i giovanissimi ad interessarsi a tematiche così complesse e fuori dall'ordinarietà. Durante lo spettacolo ci ha accompagnato Mbaye dal Senegal con i bonghi.

 
Qui di seguito alcune fotografie scattate nel corso delle vetrina  genovese di Tilt.
 
 
Scalinata per raggiungere l'Abbazia di S. Bernardino

Nella e Jennifer

Raffaella Furno in primo piano

Le donne

Raffaella Furno, io e Nella Bozzano

Free time Io e Nella a Bogliasco

Free time Bogliasco

Free time Bogliasco

Portofino on the background