SQUIZ THE WORLD (1400 × 700px)

Squiz the World goes to… Afghanistan

Bushkazi video (warning, does contain images of a dead calf): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTIqbpXtQUc
Kabuli palaw recipe: https://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/kabuli-palaw-rice-carrots-and-sultanas


Each week, we give the world globe a spin, and see where we land. Then we take the kids of Australia on an audio excursion to visit that country and its people.

I’m Amanda Bower, and today on Squiz the World we’re visiting Afghanistan, which has been in the news a lot since August in 2021, when a religious group called the Taliban took back control of this country of 38 million people. The Taliban is known for its very strict interpretation of Islamic law, and for its support of terrorism. It ruled most of Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when army troops from countries like Australia, the United States and Britain came to Afghanistan to drive the Taliban out of power. But in 2021, those foreign troops decided to leave, and it didn’t take long for the Taliban to take control again.

The Taliban observe a very unusual form of the religion of Islam, one that many other Muslims all over the world do not agree with. At different times they’ve made it against the law, or very difficult, for girls to go to school, or for women to have a job outside of the home. Men aren’t allowed to shave their beards. People aren’t allowed to have hobbies like flying kites, playing chess, listening to music, or watching TV. The music in this podcast – traditional Afghan music – would be a problem.

About 23,000 Afghan people have come to Australia to escape the Taliban, and many have said that they’re sad that the only thing Aussies know about their country is about the Taliban, and war.

So let’s find out more about this south central Asian nation … Strap yourselves into the Squiz Kids Super Fast Supersonic Jetliner as we take off and take a squiz at Afghanistan …

Just the Facts
Afghanistan is a landlocked country, meaning it has no coastline. Its neighbors are Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, so it’s right in the heart of “stan” country.
Its capital and largest city is Kabul, which is located in the Hindu Kush Mountains, making it one of the highest capitals in the world. Kabul is over 3,500 years old, and was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road trading route in Asia. It’s about halfway between Istanbul, in Turkey, and Hanoi, in Vietnam, and it was known for its gardens and palaces. In fact, Kabul was once called the “Paris of the Central Asia” and it was a big tourist attraction in the second half of last century. Ask your grandparents… they may have been there back in their hippie days…

Whenever you travel, it’s important to learn a few words in that country’s language. It’s a great way to show respect. So, let’s….

Learn the Lingo

In Afghanistan the official languages are Dari Persian and Pashtu. The way that you say hello is the same in both languages… it’s a very typical Muslim greeting, which means “peace be upon you.”
Squiz Kid Sana, who is six, was born in Afghanistan but came to Sydney as a refugee, is here to teach us how to say it. Take it away, Sana.

Salaam alaikum

Give it a try! Salaam alaikum.

People are always really grateful when you just try to speak their language. They may even thank you for it. Let’s ask another Squiz Kid, Awen – who was also born in Afghanistan, and is also now living in Australia, how we say thank you in Dari Persian. Awen is just four, but she speaks so clearly, I think she’s a born teacher… take it away, Awen!


Tashakur to you.

Now Sana’s very clever big brother, Ehsan, who is 11, speaks both Dari and Pashtu, so he’s going to teach us how to say thank you in Pashtu! Take it away, Ehsan..


Manana to all three of you amazing kids.

Now that we can communicate a little bit, it’s….

Time for School
In Afghanistan the school day only lasts about 4 hours. That might sound good to you, but the reasons why it’s such a short day may not. Many students have to work jobs as well as go to school, to support their families. Many kids have to also walk over an hour to get to their school, and when they get there, they may not have a desk, or books, or even pens. Some schools aren’t even in a permanent building – meaning it may happen outside, or in a tent. Many of the teachers don’t have a university degree, so even though they’re doing the best they can, they’re not experts in teaching. So it’s really hard for kids in Afghanistan to learn.

And the Taliban make it harder. The last time they were in power, they banned public schools, and boys were only allowed to learn in religious schools, called madrasas. Girls weren’t allowed to go to school at all.

Over the 20 years that they were NOT in power, girls went to school and university, got jobs… (FX: cheer) but they were shut out again when the Taliban returned.

The Taliban said that girls’ schools would stay open when they got back into power, but they broke their promise. Now, girls are banned from going to school after grade six – and many are scared to even go to primary school.

The Taliban influences just about everything in Afghan people’s lives… even sport! Let’s learn more in…

Sport Time
The first time the Taliban were in power, they banned ALL sports. This time around, they said they’d allow 400 different sports to be played… but only by men. (FX: boo) A lot of Afghan women athletes have fled the country, and are now trying to play their sports in other places — including two Afghan national team cricketers who are now in Australia. Cricket is one of the most popular sports in Afghanistan, but Cricket Australia decided that, because of the way the Taliban is treating women, it would not play a scheduled One Day series against Afghanistan in March 2023… (FX: Cricket bat hitting ball)

So cricket and soccer are both popular in Afghanistan, but … you already know about those sports. What about the Afghan national sport of Buzkashi? Have you ever heard of polo, where teams of players, mounted on horseback, go around hitting a wooden ball with long mallets? Well, Buzkashi is a game where instead of a ball, players try to pick up with their bare hands a dead goat or calf, and ride with it to place it in a goal scoring area. Yes, you heard that correctly. A dead goat. Players often carry a whip, filled with heavy lead, to fend off members from the other team, and games can last for several days. Yikes!

I’ve popped a link to Buzkashi in your episode notes, but take note, there really is video of a dead animal being used as a kind of ball, which might be hard for some of you to see.

Dinner Time
Winters are so cold in Afghanistan that lots of the food is fairly fatty, because people need calories to stay warm! The national dish is called Kabuli Palaw, which is a rice dish mixed with raisins, carrots, nuts, and usually lamb. Although lots of Asian food is spicy, Afghanis don’t love their food too hot. Instead, they’re famous for adding fruit and nuts to food. Yum! There’s a recipe in your episode notes… give it a try tonight!

The S’Quiz
This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening.

Question 1. What was the name of the trading route that Kabul sat on?
Question 2. Why is Afghan food quite fatty?
Question 3. How do you say hello in Afghanistan?