Inna Sjevtsjenko (Femen) zaagt met Stihl houten kruis door in Kiev


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Raoul De Keyser (1993) : Bern-Berlin Hangend

zwarte takken: van de apenverdriet voor het raam van de kunstenaar

hemel is voorgrond geworden

hemel is niet oneindig, maar in 3 vlakken opgedeeld

misschien : “schilderijen (= de 3 blauwe rechthoeken) zijn geen vensters op de werkelijkheid maar objecten op zich” (interpretatie van Eric Rinckhout)


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Piet Zwart : Nederlands ontwerper (1885-1977) : Bruynzeelkeukens, etc.

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Malalai of Maiwand

Malalai of Maiwand (Pashto: د معيړند ملالۍ), also known as Malalai (Pashto:ملاله) or Malalai Anaa (Pashto: ملالۍ انا‎, meaning Malalai the “grandmother) is a national folk hero of Afghanistan who rallied the Pashtun army against the British troops at the 1880 Battle of Maiwand.[1] She was a young Pashtun woman who fought alongside Ayub Khan and was responsible for the Afghan victory[2] at the Battle of Maiwand on 27 July 1880, during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. She is also known as “The Afghan Jeanne D’Arc“.[3] There are many schools, hospitals, and other institutions named after her in Afghanistan. Her story is mentioned in all Afghan school text books.


Afghan heroine of Maiwand
(welcome to the most widely copied article on this website!)

While in Britain, no one has heard of her, in Afghanstan Malalai (or Malala) is a legend. Smaller facts in the story vary slightly, but although it is Ayub Khan who became known as the Victor of Maiwand, it is said that it was Malalai who actually saved the day.

She was a native of Khig, a tiny village on the edge of the Maiwand battlefield, and the daughter of a shepard. Both her father and fiancée joined with Ayub’s army in the attack on the British on July 27th 1880 (which some say was also her wedding day), and like many women, Malalai was there to help tend to the wounded and provide water and spare weapons. Eventually there came a point in the battle where the Afghan army, despite their superior numbers, started to lose morale and the tide seemed to be turning in favour of the British. Seeing this, Malalai took off her veil and shouted out:

“Young love! If you do not fall in the battle of Maiwand,
By God, someone is saving you as a symbol of shame!”

This gave many of the Afghan fighters and ghazis a new resolve and they redoubled their efforts. At that moment one of the leading flag-bearers fell from a British bullet, and Malalai went forward and held up the flag (some versions say she made a flag out of her veil), singing a landai:

“With a drop of my sweetheart’s blood,
Shed in defense of the Motherland,
Will I put a beauty spot on my forehead,
Such as would put to shame the rose in the garden,”

But then Malalai was herself struck down and killed. However, her words had spurred on her countrymen and soon the British lines gave way, broke and turned, leading to a disastrous retreat back to Kandahar and the biggest defeat for the Anglo-Indian army in the Second Afghan War. Ayub Khan afterwards gave a special honour to Malalai and she was buried at her village, where her grave can still be found.

British sources, unsurprisingly, do not mention Malalai. Her actions may not have been noticed by any of the British, or they may not have seemed as consequential as they were to the Afghans. Afghan women are very rarely mentioned at all in the reports and narratives of the war (Hensman mentions that one woman was found among the dead at Ahmed Khel). Interestingly, it is the Afghans who provide some of the evidence for one of the other legends born at the battle of Maiwand, as it is from one of Ayub’s artillery colonels that we learn some of the details of the famous last stand of the 66th, clutching to their company colours, in a Khig garden, where indeed the fallen bodies were later found to be lying.

As well as Malalai, there were many other factors in the Afgan’s favour on that day, including preferential terrain and positioning, superior numbers, skilled use of outnumbering artillery, and perhaps some bad decisions on the British side of things. But certainly her actions were enough to turn her into a national hero where she is still revered today. Schools, hospitals and even a women’s magazine have been named after her. It is also a popular girl’s name, with Malalai Joya a rare female voice in post-Taliban Afghan politics.

Article by Garen Ewing ©2005. Separate from other articles on this website, I grant a creative commons license so this article may be used elsewhere to spread the word about Malalai. Please include this credit line.

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Malalai – Afghan Heroine of Maiwand by Garen C Ewing is licensed under a
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All original content on this site is © Garen Ewing 2012, unless otherwise stated.
Original images from my own collection and data on this site should not be used without prior permission – thank you.
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Robert Capa : ‘Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment of Death, Cerro Muriano, September 5, 1936.’

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Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan °1998)

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Pedro De Bruycker over jongeren (pedagoog Arteveldehogeschool)

De jongere van nu is gelukkig met zichzelf, maar kijkt met een donkere bril naar de samenleving. Als we dat niet kunnen veranderen, krijgen we algemene gelatenheid. En dat is het ergste wat een samenleving kan overkomen.

(in De Morgen van 10 oktober 2012)


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