A popular Afghan musician known for drawing huge crowds across Afghanistan is Radio Azadi’s “Person of the Year.” Farhad Darya was recognized by RFE’s Afghan station for his exceptional dedication to promoting music and cultural tolerance throughout the country.
“Farhad’s songs carry a powerful message of peace and reconciliation,” says Radio Azadi Director Hashem Mohmand. “And he performs everywhere, even in volatile regions where the Taliban and other extremists are still very hostile towards music.”
Darya serves as the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) National Goodwill Ambassador for Afghanistan and is actively involved in a number of charitable organizations. He is the founder of ”Music Village,” a Kabul-based non-profit organization seeking to preserve Afghan music, as well as the charity “Kocha” (“Street”), which supports orphans and disadvantaged children.
A fixture on the Afghan music scene since the 1980s, Darya left Afghanistan during Taliban rule, when playing music was punishable by death. His homecoming in 2003 was a symbolic event for many. Shortly after his return, he gave a concert to an overflow audience at the notorious Ghazi Stadium in Kabul (capacity 25,000), which had been the site of public executions under the Taliban.
Despite threats from extremists, Darya performs tirelessly across the country. During his 2010 “Life Is Beautiful” tour (a reference to Roberto Benigni’s film of the same name), tens of thousands of mostly young Afghans attended his concerts in some of the most conflict-ridden parts of the country, including Helmand and Herat. A concert in Mazar-i-Sharif was dedicated exclusively to women and attended by over 15,000 enthusiastic female fans.
Darya is also actively involved in a number of charitable organizations. He is the founder of ”Music Village,” a Kabul-based non-profit organization seeking to preserve Afghan music, as well as the charity “Kocha” (“Street”), which supports orphans and disadvantaged children. Since 2008, he has served as the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) National Goodwill Ambassador for Afghanistan.
The award was presented at a press conference in Kabul. “By naming Farhad Darya ‘Person of the Year,’ Radio Azadi demonstrates its appreciation for those who work for social justice, national unity, and democracy,” says Afghan Deputy Minister of Information and Culture Ghulam Nabi Farahi.
Radio Azadi’s annual “Person of the Year” award recognizes outstanding individual contributions to democracy and civil society in Afghanistan. Previous winners include lawmaker Ramzan Bashardost, physician and human rights activist Anarkali Honaryar, and former Kandahar governor Gul Agha Sherzai.
About Radio Azadi
In the eight years since RFE launched Radio Azadi’s part of an effort to help build a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan, the station has become the most popular media outlet in the country (Source: Intermedia). For more on Afghanistan, check out RFE’s