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This week in Tortoise: A son of Afghanistan

This week in Tortoise: A son of Afghanistan

Last month, we held a ThinkIn about the past 20 years in Afghanistan. The question up for discussion: what did the West achieve?

Today, in the wake of the Taliban’s return to power, and as crowds press against the walls of Kabul airport, that question has taken on a painful urgency – as has the testimony of one of our guests at that ThinkIn.

Rohullah Yakobi, or Roh, spoke that evening about fleeing the persecution of the Taliban at the age of just 12 in the late 1990s. He told us that, in recent months, he’d been tempted to return – and to fight. “I don’t want the Taliban to push more kids like myself out of their homes and villages.”

We were so compelled by Roh’s story that we decided to tell it more fully. The result is this week’s episode of the Slow Newscast: A Son of Afghanistan. In conversation with Basia Cummings, Roh reveals what being a son of that country meant for him: a father who fought against the Soviets; kidnap and torture at the hands of the Taliban; selling opium to escape; cheering on as the West invaded; eventually reuniting with his father in Wolverhampton, England.

It is a remarkable story, though it may not just be Roh’s: there are, of course, many sons and daughters of Afghanistan. The country’s cycle of conflict has made thousands into refugees over the past few decades – and now the latest, merciless turn of the wheel will create thousands more.

A Son of Afghanistan is the personal story of a country’s wars and fears, glimpses of progress, and examples of courage and kindness; it is a reminder of the West’s responsibilities today and a warning against wishful thinking about Afghanistan’s future. Please do listen to the podcast, which is in the Tortoise app today.


James Harding
Editor & co-founder