A conversation with Homayoun Sakh

Not many people associate “peace” with Afghanistan. Usually, thoughts of war and chaos come to mind. However, Homayoun Sakhi, a California-based musician, thinks differently.

“When I think of Afghanistan, I think of peace,” says Sakhi. “Because I think of music and music to me is peace.”

This leading Afghan rubab player was in Houston earlier this month to perform at the Voices of Afghanistanconcert presented by the Asia Society Texas Center. Sakhi was accompanied by the legendary Afghan singer Ustad Farida Mahwash and the Sakhi ensemble. Together, the group created an acoustically rich experience filled with poetic ghazals (songs of love and longing), Sufi songs of devotion, and traditional folk melodies.

A 45-minute interview with Sakhi enriched my afternoon and made me ponder over Afghanistan’s rich cultural history.

Much of Afghanistan today may be shattered by the war, but the country was once vibrant with culture and at the heart of the Silk Road. Throughout history, Afghanistan has seen various invaders and conquerors who have all left behind a unique blend of cultures. Located at a central point of trade and migration, Afghanistan emerged as a regional hub of cultural and social activity and is home to a vast array of musical genres. Yes, people in Afghanistan do listen to music, even though this freedom was challenged in the past.

“It was very tough before,” says Sakhi about Afghanistan’s political conditions, “But a lot better now…people are now able to freely to listen to music.”


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