Sunday, July 15, 2012

Afghanistan: The Way It Was

I remember my mother wearing clothes like this when she went to the record store looking for 45s of her favorite songs. There were little booths where she would listen to records before buying them to play on our high fidelity record player at home. But this isn't a record store in downtown San Francisco, this is a record store in downtown Kabul in the 1960s.

CSUEB's former president Mohammad Qayoumi had this to say about the Kabul of his childhood
‘Given the images people see on TV, many conclude Afghanistan never made it out of the Middle Ages. But that is not the Afghanistan I remember. I grew up in Kabul in the 1950s and ’60s. Stirred by the fact that news portrayals of the country’s history didn’t mesh with my own memories, I wanted to discover the truth.

‘Remembering Afghanistan’s hopeful past only makes its present misery seem more tragic. But it is important to know that disorder, terrorism, and violence against schools that educate girls are not inevitable. I want to show Afghanistan’s youth of today how their parents and grandparents really lived.’
Here are a few more pictures of "old" Afghanistan.

Biology class at Kabul University.

Kabul University students changing classes. Enrollment doubled in four years.

Student nurses at Maternity Hospital, Kabul

This is the way Afghanistan was. Kabul University thrived, women attended school, and popular culture was not punishable by death. If you'd like to see more pictures of old Afghanistan check out Retronaut.

Do these pictures give you hope for the future of the middle east? Do you think people like President Qayoumi will see old Afghanistan again?


  1. The middle east had many opportunities and more options than there are today. Now in days people look at Afghanistan very differently then what it used to be. I believe that their is hope that Afghanistan can go back to the ways it used to be. These pictures show that women had more rights back then than they do now. With these pictures to influence the middle east maybe they will realize that things can be done to fix things. Maybe one day President Qayoumi will be able to see this place he calls home go back to normal.

  2. There will always be many chances and opportunities to the countries that work and strive to be better, and Afghanistan is a good example of that. There is no doubt in my mind that Afghanistan will be able to get back up and become what it used to be. Looking at these pictures do make you realize that a country was not always the way they are now, they also had their time oh happiness and great success.

  3. The middle east back then looked so much differnt, it has got worse today than back in the 50's. the woman in the phots arent wearing the hijabs. I wonder why back then it seems that woman have more freedom than what they have today inthe middle east. What i want to know what brought this dramatic change to woman. They didnt cover up their hair, nor their legs, now you can only see their eyes. By looking at these pictures i would have never thought this was an Afganistan woman. As for hop in the future i dont see it coming any time soon. the men are superior to the woman there. And if a woman was to speak out they, would dont live to speak another word. i'm at a lost of words when i see these pictures, i just can not believe it. i hope Afghanistan would look like the old Afghanistan, even better than what its does today, it would really be a sight to see.

  4. I was surprised to see the clothes the women were wearing since now they wearing clothing that covers up their skin and hair ( at least that's what they show us on television). I hear that the women are not able to have the same education as men but seeing these photos of everything the middle east is against now is weird. What happened? These images do give me hope that they will eventually go back to this but it is going to take a while. It is possible that people like President Qayoumi will see old Afghanistan again, maybe from heaven, but one day. There will come a time where a group of people will come together and change the future of their country.

  5. i believe afganistan people might have some kind of hope because of what the future hold for us and everyone else in the world everything around here is changing. i believe there can be a change in afganistian. im sure people wouold live happier and better not saying they dont but maybe feel more comfrtable im sure they are comftrable with themselves but im sure there is a couple of them wish they didnt have that big change and would love it ti be like the o9ld afganistian .

  6. I am actually kind of surprised that women in Afghanistan were able to study. From what I heard, women were not allowed to study in much of the middle eastern countries because they were thought to be inferior to males. I think that it is good that they had this privilege, but something leads me to believe that now they are not able.

  7. I really enjoyed reading this article. This is because I am Afghan and my parents were born and practically raised in Afghanistan. I always grew up listening to stories from my mother and grandma talking about all the freedom that they had back in Afghanistan. My mom was also raised in Kabul, Afghanistan and she would always talk about when she would go to school, go out with tons of friends, and got to wear similar clothes. like the women in the pictures. My mom has never been back to Afghanistan ever since she immigrated from there to America. My dad has went back once. My father told us that Afghanistan is not the same as it was when he was a little boy. He says now there is no such thing as freedom, it is scary to walk outside. He says some part of Afghanistan are doing well, but most of the people are not. He also visited the University which he graduated from and he said that it is doing well, but somehow its not the same from when it was when him and his friends were attending. When my dad came back he wished for the old Afghanistan to come back, just like President Qayoumi. Maybe they even know each other! I would really love to visit my country one day. And I believe if people put in effort to get the change they want in Afghanistan they will get what they want. I would love to see Afghanistan how it was back then.