Thursday, March 10, 2011

Of Laghman: The Shura

The shura is the traditional form of governance in Afghanistan. It's a format not unknown elsewhere in the world - we would probably call it a "council of elders" or perhaps just a "town hall meeting" in the New England sense, not the election campaign sense. Basically, whenever there's something important to figure out, the wise old men of the village or valley or region get together and talk it out until they've figured out what to do. It's fairly democratic, or at least broadly participatory, other than the part about no women being invited.

This was a shura called by the government of Laghman province to get all the respected elders of the community together to talk over what to do about poppy cultivation in the province. At least 250 men packed this hall, with seats stretching out the front door and onto the porch. Your correspondent was only there for the welcoming speeches from various dignitaries, although it would have been interesting to see what the ensuing discussion looked like.

Unfortunately, we were running around like crazy trying to make the visit go off smoothly, and were not given the day to just take photos, as would have benefited this publication. So, the reader will sometimes have to settle for our favorite snapshots rather than fine art photography. But if you're asking yourself, "Where are the Holla-standard pictures taken though the bulletproof windows of a moving MRAP?!" fret not, they're coming soon.

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