Hamida Ghafour – WOMAN of ACTION™

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A Celebration of Women

is elated to Celebrate the Life of this powerhouse woman leader, one that has taken on the challenge to lead the way, in the holistic side of life. An herbalist from New York, this activist, artist, herbalist, organizer and writer devotes her life to the betterment of the lives of women, with a special focus on the Afghanistan and women’s issues in the developing world.






hamida profile


Hamida Ghafour



Hamida Ghafour is a Canadian journalist and author of Afghan origin.

She was born in Kabul in 1977 and is named after her grandmother who was a writer and social reformer. Ghafour and her parents fled Afghanistan in 1981 when she was four years old and claimed political asylum in New Delhi, India. Descended from generations of courtiers, administrators, bureaucrats, intellectuals and academics, they were the first members of her family ever to leave Afghanistan. They settled in Toronto, to a life of middle-class, Canadian obscurity in which their homeland was nothing but “a place one left, escaped from, or died in“.

Hamida_logo2012W.jpg.size.medium1.originalIn 1985 the family settled in Toronto and is a foreign affairs reporter at The Star.

She has lived and worked in the Middle East, Asia and Europe as a journalist for more than 10 years. She is author of a book on Afghanistan and presented documentaries for British television.

In 2003, she returned to Afghanistan to cover the reconstruction and first election for The Daily Telegraph.

Over the next 14 months she travelled the country reporting for the paper, seeing more of the place which she, her parents, and grandparents had once called home. In that time she met an extraordinary variety of people — some ordinary, some eccentric, some wealthy, some dirt-poor, some powerful, some broken — but all of them trying to find and make their place in post-Taliban Afghanistan. To learn more of her namesake grandmother — a sort of Afghan Virginia Woolf — she found herself looking for remaining traces of the country and culture in which she had lived.

She has also worked for Unreported World on Channel 4.

This is an evocative family memoir and unique portrait of Afghanistan from a young Afghan journalist.

Hamida Ghafour’s family fled Kabul after the Russian invasion.

hamida pic_womenIn 2003, she was sent back by the Telegraph to cover the country’s reconstruction. She finds a place changed utterly from the world her parents had described and her grandmother – an Afghan Virginia Woolf – had written about.

All around her is the West’s first post-9/11 experiment with an Islamic democracy. But the people she meets reveal a different kind of nation building: the ‘beautician without borders’ whose school teaches women a new kind of independence; her cousin’s determined parliamentary campaign; the archaeologist digging for his country’s lost civilization in the form of a giant sleeping Buddha.

As she participates in her country’s present, its elusive past and her family’s own story come vividly together for Hamida. But only when she’s standing by her grandmother’s grave – after a heavily escorted Chinook trip to the wildest corner of the land – does she start to find her own place in it all.

hamida sleeping buddhaIn THE SLEEPING BUDDHA, she tells the stories of nine fascinating people she met, alongside the story of her search for grandmother Hamida; the discovery of her family’s past is also the search for Afghanistan’s future.

Written from a unique perspective (Hamida is both Western and Asian, a journalist and an Afghan woman), the book offers an original examination of the paradox that is Afghanistan — a country of hope and resignation, of rebuilding and of violent destruction, ethnically diverse but uniformly struggling, a nation continually hungry for change but trapped in a continuum of historical chaos, a once-great civilization stepping back from the brink of almost having reduced itself to rubble.

A Review by Hamida Ghafour, the Guardian:

‘Halfway through Hamida Ghafour’s memoir, she quotes actor Anthony Quayle: ‘To understand a man, you must know his memories; the same is true of a nation.’

Hamida Ghafour.jpgin AfghanistanSent to Afghanistan in 2003 by the Daily Telegraph to report on the reconstruction of that war-weary country after 9/11, her intelligent debut uses personal and public memories to investigate Afghanistan’s culture, heritage and past. Through this journey, she discovers her Afghan identity.

At first, Ghafour hesitates to embrace a culture she has little in common with; she was brought up in Canada, where she and her family were forced to flee in 1981 when the Russians invaded. She finds a gap between her steady and contained life in the West and the chaotic, often tragic world that she finds in Kabul.

She cannot understand how other exiles dreamily declare a sense of ultimate homecoming over green tea. In Kabul, she finds that ‘the urban landscape was defined by violence and unchecked male aggression… while contractors drove and pointed their M 16 assault rifles randomly’.

Yet, through her sense of inquisitiveness, Ghafour begins to understand that, traumatized though the country might seem, its heritage and culture have not been defeated, and that ‘an Afghan without ties of kin and clan has no identity at all’.

She delves into the history of an engaging cast of characters: there is her daring grandmother, Hamida, an Afghan suffragette who campaigned for the abolition of the veil and wrote poetry. There is her grandfather, Abdul, who loved making fig jam when he was not in charge of security and crushing uprisings for the royal family. There are her parents, who met at university at a time when Islam was negotiating how to, or if to, embrace the West. There is Shahida, her cousin, who runs for parliament unsuccessfully, but none the less enjoys the privilege after years of Taliban restrictions. There is also archaeologist Dr Tarzi, who bemoans the destruction of Afghan’s artefacts and continues to hunt for original fourth-century statues of the Sleeping Buddha of Bamiyan, from which the book takes its name.

Through these voices, Ghafour weaves a clear explanation of the forces at play in recent and remote Afghan history, defining the struggles between modernity and tradition, secular values and conservative Islam, the returning diaspora and the Afghans who never left.

As Ghafour points out, Afghanistan has been an arena for the ambitions of many – for Pakistan, for Russia, for Osama bin Laden’s new world order, even for George W Bush’s Islamic free-market democracy.

While other books have shown the Afghan struggle, such as Khaled Hosseini’s brilliant novel The Kite Runner, Ghafour’s journey complements and adds to their voices with elegant, humane authenticity and paints an observant picture of an ancient and distinguished culture at a crossroads.

As she points out, finding the Sleeping Buddha will not give Dr. Tarzi a bandage for his wounded national pride but it will, as he says, supply a balm. For the moment, for Afghanistan and for Ghafour, that might be a beginning.’


“While other books have shown the Afghan struggle, such as Khaled Hosseini’s brilliant novel THE KITE RUNNER, Ghafour’s journey complements and adds to their voices with elegant, humane authenticity and paints an observant picture of an ancient and distinguished culture at a crossroads.” ~ Observer

“Her eyewitness accounts provide powerful insights into recent events from the perspective of a western woman, but with the inside track on Afghanistan.” ~ New Statesman

“Daily news reports mean that most of us have some awareness of what’s going on in Afghanistan. What Ghafour does with this book is delve into the details, delivering insights into the shortcomings of the efforts to rebuild, along with a glimpse of the country as it was when her forebears helped shape Afghan society. Combining journalistic clarity with an emotional narrative, Ghafour has crafted a book that is both informative and visceral.” ~ Quill & Quire (Canada)

“A stunning debut about a devastated country that is at the center on the war on terrorism. Ghafour combines the personal with the professional and intellectual to describe her homeland. She looks at the war in Afghanistan with fresh eyes that are also attuned to the centuries of tortuous history of her country. A remarkable book by a beautiful writer.” ~ Ahmed Rashid, Author of the Taliban (2000) and Descent Into Chaos (2009)

“It is outstandingly good in its analysis of the mistakes made by the West, in its picture of a disintegrated society and in its evocation of the Afghanistan that has been destroyed … it is written with love, suffused with sadness, and often sharpened by anger. I read it at a sitting, straight through, and I imagine most readers will want to do so, too. This is a work of keen intelligence.

It is also often, in its evocation of the country Ghafour’s parents lost, very beautiful. It is sometimes bitter, and sometimes, in the portraits of people struggling to restore order and decency, deeply moving.

It is a work of both the heart and the head, and anyone who is interested in the divisions of the world today should read it. I have learnt more about Afghanistan from these 300 pages than from anything else I have read.” Alan Massie, Daily Telegraph

social-mediaFIND HAMIDA HERE:

Assistant: Helen Efange
020 3214 0956
+44 (0) 20 3214 0887

Hamida Ghafour (@HamidaGhafour) on Twitter

Hamida Ghafour – Canada | LinkedIn

Hamida Ghafour – View In iTunes
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BONUS FEATURE: A Solid Foundation, Hamida Ghafour (pdf)

PAGE 1 OF 5 READING AND REMEMBRANCE 2011 PEACEKEEPING AND PEACEMAKING: The soldier, the diplomat and the journalist Reading and Remembrance 2011 | ReadingAndRemembrance.ca
The soldier, the diplomat and the journalist: perspectives onpeacemaking in the 21st century

She lives in London since 2001.

A Celebration of Women

is elated to welcome this powerhouse into our global alumni of women leaders, working to better the lives of women everywhere; and look forward to future collaboration.


Brava Hamida!


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