• Fri. Aug 12th, 2022

Brighton and Hove News » Brighton kite maker leads festival to mark anniversary of Taliban takeover

ByRandall B. Phelps

Jul 4, 2022

Photo by Alice Denny/Good Chance Theater

A multi-city kite festival will mark one year since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Fly With Me will celebrate the ancient Afghan art of kiting at 15 locations across the UK and Europe in an act of solidarity with the people of the country.

Events on Saturday August 20 will feature music, poetry and dance by Afghan artists and other community groups, and highlight the cultural significance of kites in Afghanistan’s history.

German Doner Kebab

The project comes from Good Chance Theatre, creators of The Walk With Amal, in which a giant puppet of a refugee child is walked from the Turkish-Syrian border to Manchester.

It was developed with Afghan kite master and refugee Sanjar Qiam, who founded the former Rocket Science toy shop in Trafalgar Street, Brighton.

Funds raised will go to Afghanaid and its By Her Side campaign to support women in rural Afghan communities.

Through kite-making workshops, the project will tell the story of Zaki, a 12-year-old boy in Kabul who, in accordance with 800-year-old traditions, flies kites every autumn.

After his brother Bahram is forced to flee by the Taliban, Zaki learns to make kites alone with his younger sister, Marwa.

Sanjar said: “The kite is one of the earliest art forms in the world – there are depictions of kites in cave paintings in Indonesia that date back 40,000 years.

“In Afghanistan, kites occupy a unique space between a national art form and a national sport.

“They are a universal symbol of expression, competence and cultural pride.

“Fly With Me is an act of solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and an opportunity for all of us to come together and feel the strings that connect us to this incredible country, its culture and its people.”

London, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow are among the cities participating in Fly With Me, alongside Berlin, Paris and Copenhagen in Europe.

The Manchester International Festival and the Shambala Festival in Northamptonshire will also be there.

Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, co-artistic directors of the Good Chance Theatre, said: “The kites remain attached to the ground by a single thread but fly without the boundaries that define the earth.

“Kites are the embodiment of freedom and play.

“Looked at collectively, on the stage of the sky, the kites represent unity, our difference and our shared humanity.

“But the last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, kites were banned, along with music, free journalism, theater and dance.

“This simplest device for play and wonder, play and competition is also one of the most contested spaces in recent global history.

“This affront to freedom of expression is perpetuated once again with the return to power of the Taliban.

“Fly With Me is a reminder to the world: Remember Afghanistan.

“Thus, by making and flying kites in the Afghan tradition, led by Afghans who have rebuilt their lives in Europe, and open to all, we will stand in solidarity with Afghans in the final affront to their freedom and remind the world of the devastating humanitarian crisis that continues to plague Afghanistan today.