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Ambassador Jawad pays tribute to Nancy Hatch Dupree at London memorial

“A nation stays alive if its culture stays alive”


Nancy Hatch Dupree, who passed away aged 89 on the 10th of September 2017, was an American archivist, author and champion of Afghanistan. A woman of courage, she famously defied communists, fundamentalists, foreign invaders and warlords over nearly five decades in Kabul.

Born in the US, raised in India and educated in Mexico, Mrs. Dupree arrived in Kabul in 1962 as the wife of an American diplomat. In Kabul, however, she soon divorced and married archaeologist Louis Dupree, and together they spent almost 15 years travelling and exploring excavated archaeological sites in Afghanistan. Moreover, they also set up mobile libraries to reach rural communities in order to promote literacy amongst young Afghan men and women.

Mrs. Dupree wrote five books and more than 100 articles on Afghanistan. Her legacy is often described as an academic oasis: an archive comprising of more than 100,000 items of primary and secondary sources housed in the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU). Indeed, reflecting Mr. and Mrs. Dupree love for Afghan history, the centre is inspired by traditional architecture, making it one of the most impressive post-Taliban buildings in the capital.

UK Friends and colleagues met to celebrate Mrs. Dupree’s life and mark her passing last Friday. Ambassador Jawad, his wife Shamim Jawad and diplomat Babakhan Aslami represented the Embassy. At the memorial, the Ambassador spoke warmly of Nancy Dupree’s efforts at preserving Afghanistan’s history. The Ambassador also recited the poem Return of Surya written by the prize-winning Afghan poet Reza Mohammadi.  Although the Ambassador recited the poem in Farsi to honour Mrs. Dupree’s close relationship to Afghanistan and its people, the guests were given a translation of the poem in English.

Returning of Surya

By Reza Mohammadi

بازگشت سوریا

یاد بود و گرامیداشت
از خانم نانسی دوپری

رضا محمدی


از لایه های سوخته شهر، بلبلی

از منقار بلبل

بوستانی پیدا کردی

وقتی تمام چیز فقط خاکستر بود

وقتی بهار، معنی متروکی

وقتی که گل، گلوله سرسام یافته

وآفتاب از دل مردم هم حتی

از یاد رفته بود

وقتی  درست در وسط روز

تاریکی از پشت کوه های بلند کابل بالا می آمد

و روح شمع ها برباد رفته بود

باد، ابرهای پیر پراکنده را

در آسمان یخ زده

با خود غژدی می زد

در پایتخت مه

شهری که نام دیگرش اندوه است


در جستجوی آواز بلبلی می گشتی

و پیدا کردی

پیدا کردی

لاغر، تکیده،کوچک

با گیسوان باران

در پشت میزی از ابر

آواز بلبلی را

تشریح می نمودی


سوریا، الهه کابل بودی

از آسمان به خاطر زیبایی

بعد از هزار ها سال باز آمدی

و مهربانی را پنجاه سال خورشیدی ، تابیدی

امید را

چون رودخانه برکت

بین کتاب های قدیمی گستردی

و قلب های ما را


آواز بلبل

صفحه، صفحه، صفحه

پر کردی



From the burned-out layers of

the city, a nightingale bean

From the nightingale bean, you

Then found a garden

When everything flashes was

 Just ashes, when the spring was an abandoned concept, when

flowers were spectacular bullets, and

 the Sun from the heart of people even

Was forgotten, when

 right in the middle of the day

The darkness was rising up from the back of the high mountains of the Kabul

And the soul of the candles was gone


Wind was gathering the

Scattered old clouds, in

 the frozen sky

In the capital of the fag

A city whose name is grief


You were looking for a nightingale song

And found it

You found it

You will be remembered for ever

Slim, gladsome, small

Like a merry rain

At the back of the table of cloud

Sing a blonde

 Describing the song of a nightingale


You will be remembered as

The Surya, Goddess of Kabul

You arrived to earth, from

 the heavens to save the beauty

After thousands of years you arrived

To shed the kindness, and

Spread the


like a blessed river

you will be remembered, in

 our old precious books

you will be remembered in

our hearts

Which you filled them

 Page by page by page

With the

 Nightingale song



A number of prominent UK personalities, such as journalist Shoaib Sharif, USIP vice-president Andrew Wilder and development worker Sippi Moghaddam, also paid tribute to Mrs. Dupree at the memorial, highlighting the different ways in which the Afghanistan Centre and her publications have given Afghans hope for the future. Indeed, unlike many people who knew a very different Afghanistan, Mrs. Dupree managed to celebrate the past without getting lost in nostalgia. This has made her extraordinarily loved in a country that is generally wary of outsiders, whereby some people even call her the “grandmother of Afghanistan”. Mrs. Dupree herself, however, preferred “ancient monument of Afghanistan”. Although it was meant as a joke, her work has indisputably been a monumental tribute to her beloved husband and adopted country: Afghanistan.


Surya is the Goddess of Sun in Bactria. She resided in what it is now part of Greater Kabul, Khair Khana Hills.

Surya means the SUN in Sanskrit and she had devoted followers from northern Afghanistan to Rajasthan, Gujrat and Bihar of today’s India.

She is one of the five deities considered means to realizing Brahman. She is often depicted surrounded by sun of riding a chariot harnessed by seven horses, which represent the seven colour rays of light of the rainbow.

Biography of Poet

Reza Mohammadi


The prize-winning poet, Reza Mohammadi – widely regarded as one of the most exciting young poets writing in Persian today – was born in Kandahar in 1979. He studied Islamic Law and then Philosophy in Iran before obtaining an MA in Globalisation from London Metropolitan University.

His three collections of poetry have gained him many awards, such as from the Afghan Ministry of Culture in 2004 and prizes for being Iran’s best young poet in 1996 and 1997.

Reza Mohammadi is also a prolific journalist and cultural commentator. His articles have been published in journals in Afghanistan and Iran, as well as in English by The Guardian.

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