Afghan Biographies

Jahani, Abdul Bari

Name Jahani, Abdul Bari
Ethnic backgr. Pashtun
Date of birth 1949
Function/Grade Ex Minister
History and Biodata

2. Previous Functions:
Minister of Information and Culture (MoIC) (20150418, 20161107)

3. Biodata:
jahani_bariAbdul Bari Jahani was born 1949 in Ahmad Shahyee Street, Kandahar City. Jahani is from the Lodin tribe, a sub-tribe of Ghilzai, one of the two main tribes of Pashtuns. Abdul Bahari Jahani considers the diversity of Afghanistan with various tribes and ethnic groups as the country's strength, and thinks that Afghans have shown throughout the history of their country that they are united and one hand. He spent his early days in the city of Kandahar. Later, when he was 12, his family left the street andt moved not· too far from there. He was brought up in a family that really did not have much interest in poetry, literature, or even literacy and went to Mir Wais Nika High School. He did not have elders who were literate or well-read. He wrote a lot of poetry in 7th grade and then 9th grade. There was no university in Kandahar those days. There was only one university and it was in Kabul where he studied history and geography at Kabul University. His father had good penmanship and wrote beautifully, but his level of literacy wasn't that useful to him. He tried to teach Jahani, and he had lot of interest in school. But Jahani never had a real trainer and no one mentored him until he finished university and the late Mohamed Sediq Rohi looked into his poetry. He encouraged him to attend seminars and gatherings. He was the only trainer he has ever had in his life.

Kandahar University was not yet built when Jahani finished his high school. Upon completing his high school at Mirwais Nika, Jahani only had two options for his higher education. He could either move to Kabul to study what he wanted to study which was history and literature or move to Nangarhar province—home to the second Afghan university at the time in the country. He chose the former one because unlike Kabul University where students had the option to pursue various majors, Nangarhar University only offered education in the field of medicine. Jahani graduated from Kabul University in 1972 with a BA in Pashto literature and history. Upon his graduation from Kabul University, Jahani joined the Pashto Tolana which is a very prestigious literature body in Afghanistan whose members have been prominent Afghan philosophers, historians, poets and writers. Getting into Pashto Tolana is the equivalent of getting into Harvard Law Review if someone was pursuing legal education in the U.S. Pashto Tolana approves the entrance of new terminologies into Pashto language and is tasked to develop Pashto language to be richer in terms of new vocabulary. Jahani had tremendous contribution to the development of Pashto language while at Pashto Tolana.

Besides being a member of the Pashto Tolana (Pashto Society), Jahani served as the Managing-Editor of a well-known Afghan magazine, Kabul Magazine. Under his leadership, Kabul Magazine witnessed considerable increase in its readership. In his capacity as the Managing Editor of the Magazine, Jahani oversaw the flow of hundreds of informative and educative social, economic and political articles aimed at keeping the Afghan public aware of the state of affairs of their country. Subsequently, Jahani served in the Afghan Ministry of Education (MoE) for two years before he was forced to leave the country during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Jahani’s mission from the very beginning was to inspire Afghan society to walk towards knowledge and education and for that noble goal he join the Afghan government’s education sector. Communists and leftists feared voices of prominent figures like Jahani and began a government planned campaign against influential and intellectual figures. Jahani migrated to Pakistan as a refugee and after two years of living as a refugee there, Jahani was offered a job with the Voice of America in Washington DC. Jahani accepted the offer and joined the Voice of America’s Pashto service in 1983 as an International broadcaster. He has contributed extensively to Pashto language programing of the Radio. Jahani hosted political talk shows, news hour shows and poetry shows at the Voice of America. His poetry show of late 11PM called “Da Ashnayaano Adabi dera” had listeners in the entire South Asian region and the Middle East. His poetry show had listeners from different age groups including youths and elders. One of his most famous poem which had a huge demand and continues to have, was the story of “three cows and one wolf” that was written in the language of poetry. The moral of the poem is unity. Like most of his other poetry, in his “three cow one wolf” poem Jahani speaks to his audiences in a plain, natural and understandable language. He warns them of what is at stake if Afghans remain divided and what could be achieved if Afghans leave behind their differences and get united behind a common goal of building a prosperous, stable and peaceful Afghanistan. Jahani continued to use his able mind and pen and VOA provided him the platform to convey his message of enlightenment to various parts of Afghanistan. With Jahani’s contribution and dedication to excellence and his prominence and popularity amongst Afghans, VOA’s Pashto service ratings and listeners have soared. Jahani’s career as a journalist with the Voice of America has earned him several recognitions and medals from the leadership of the Voice of America. He retired from the Voice of America in 2010, but never ceased to end his advocacy for Afghan unity, Afghan education and Afghan prosperity. He regularly gets offers to speak at various Afghan events held in Afghanistan, Middle East, Europe and the United States and regularly gets interview request by various Afghan TV and Radio stations in Afghanistan and around the world. Not only that Jahani’s articles about social, political and economic situation of Afghanistan are well received by various public and private print and online media outlets in Afghanistan and around the world. Jahani regularly visits Afghanistan and speak at various events including seminars discussing Pashto literature and education.

Jahani was against the communist factions, Khalq and Parcham. When Parcham took power, he could bear them for one year and in 1981,he left for Pakistan. He got depressed and left for Europe. In 1983, he moved to the US.

His seven collections of Pashto poetry, what remains of more than four decades of writing, speak eloquently of a proud region, with a rich history, now engulfed in decades of perpetual violence and which remains the hotbed of the Taliban insurgency.

However Jahani's reliance on characters and images from an aggressive period in Afghanistan's past, when Kandahar was the epicentre of a power that repeatedly invaded India, has drawn criticism from some.  "I request he leaves his blood-dripping sword of Kandahar in the museum of Gandhara [ancient name for the city] and, in the 21st century, do not ask his fellow artists to recite eulogies to sword masters," Saboorullah Siasang, an Afghan writer and critic, wrote.

Because of his prominence in Pashto literature and poetry, he was officially requested by the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai to write the Afghan National Anthem in late 2006. Prior to that, Jahani also advised the Afghan commission tasked with writing the new constitution in 2004.

Bari Jahani has been nominated for Minister of the Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC). (20150127, 20150322)

Although Abdul Bary Jahani, the nominee for the Ministry of Information and Culture, was originally included on the list of nominees introduced to Parliament by the National Unity Government last month, Jahani is believed to have dual citizenship with the United States, and is therefore barred from being appointed to the cabinet. He now has the choice to give up his U.S. citizenship or forgo his nomination.(20150415) He was confirmed as Minister by Wolesi Jirga.(20150418)

Abdul Bari Jahani has resigned from his post as minister of information and culture. Jahani submitted his resignation letter to the president on Saturday, Nov 07, 2016. Jahani had resigned for health reasons.


Last Modified 2017-08-30
Established 2012-03-09