Mid-June, I had the opportunity see the revival performance of a play entitled ‘AH 7808’ that toured most Afghan regional capitals in 2008. The play is an adaptation of an Irish script addressing conflict and each individual’s responsibility to overcome it. Through the play, the audience gets to take part in one man’s struggle to decide if he wants ‘truth-recovery surgery’ or if truth is best forgotten, as recovering it may also force him to face his own deeds and his own past.
During this one night, the man shifts between being victim and perpetrator – and through poems read by phantom voices we learn about other victims and perpetrators. The man never decides if he should have the truth recovery surgery or not, he leaves this question to the audience forcing us to ask whether we are ready to face the past and whether not daring to face the past may contribute to it being repeated?
After the play there was an intense, moderated discussion. During the discussion, most people spoke out in favour of ‘truth-recovery surgery’, but at least one argued that Afghanistan now has some peace and it should be protected with any means necessary (and truth was not one of them).
I enjoyed the play and the discussion: I collect the moments when I as a foreigner am allowed to listen in to some real discussion. I do think that a major failure by both international and Afghan actors have been that we have not really managed to appreciate and to support all the small spaces for change. Therefore, I think it is important to ‘collect’ knowledge, hearsay and rumours from the different forums and moments when spaces are opened up for debate and dissent.
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020