More than two years after a peace mural of Mahatma Gandhi in Kabul was destroyed in a terror attack, the capital city of war-torn Afghanistan has got another, days ahead of the Indian leader’s 150th birth anniversary on October 2, 2019.
The earlier peace mural, drawn by a local group of Afghan artists ‘ArtLords’, on the walls of Indian Embassy in Kabul, was destroyed in truck bomb explosion on May 31, 2017 – a terror attack that left at least 140 dead.
The same group of artists have now painted the new one on a wall outside the Governor’s office with Gandhi’s peace message in English and Persian: “The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace”.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Omaid Sharifi, co-founder cum president ArtLords, said, “We lost the first mural of Mahatma Gandhi, which was painted along with that of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan on the walls of Indian Embassy in Kabul. It was destroyed in truck bomb explosion on May 31, 2017 that had hit the diplomatic area. We had created it in 2015 on the wall of Indian Embassy next to German Embassy to encourage non-violent struggles in Afghanistan”.
ArtLords, Sharifi said, is a group of local artists and volunteers working on social transformation and peace through art and aspiring to make Kabul the capital of street art.
Ahead of Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, it was decided to paint a new mural to promote peace and as a tribute to him, Sharifi said. “The new mural is painted in the heart of Kabul city on a wall outside Governor’s office. We are in middle of a peace process and we are encouraging all sides to commit to a cease fire. Also it is Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, so there wasn’t a better way to pay tribute to him than with a peace message,” he said.
The new mural measuring 30 square meters has Gandhi’s face. Seven artists, including a local woman Negina Azimi, worked three days to design and two days to paint it, said Sharifi. The mural was completed Friday.
On response it has generated, Sharifi said, “Local people recognize Gandhi and admire him for his peaceful and non-violent ways. Most of them know him as an Indian who always stood for peace and non-violence.”
The mural destroyed in 2015 explosion also had Gandhi’s two quotes in English and Persian: “The world has enough for everyone’s needs but not enough for one person’s greed” and ‘Corruption is not hidden from God and people’s gaze’.
In July 2018, after a deadly terror attack in Jalalabad of Afghanistan killed 19, including 13 prominent Sikh leaders, ArtLords had painted a huge mural of one of the victims Rawail Singh with his daughter in Kabul with a message: “You are not going to heaven. You’ve killed my kind father”.
ArtLords is also lobbying for inclusion of art and culture in education system of Afghanistan in a bigger way. It is also encouraging women artists “from across the world to join us and change Kabul through art”.
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