While most people around the world consume news and information from their TV, radios, computers and tablets, in one Afghan province a centuries old tradition is still being practiced.
Meet the town crier of Bamyan, a man who delivers the news and ads to your door, personally…
Ghayor Waziri has this report.
For decades town criers were responsible for delivering news and information. But in the digital age, the tradition has almost died out.
These days there are not many people like Juma Khan left.
Khan has been personally delivering the news to the residents of Bamyan province since 1986.
“I was a farmer when I was young and living in Kabul. Sometimes I did some laboring, but then in 1986 I came to Bamyan province. The city was very old and the person who was working as the newsman in the province had just passed away,” explains Khan, “As I was a bit educated and could read and write, I started working as the next newsman.”
In the 1940s and 50s, “Jaar-chi,” the equivalent to the “town criers” of medieval Europe, were well known in Afghanistan...
But these days few remain.
Juma Khan says he never thought about being a famous town crier, but he soon become very well known in Bamyan, with his clear and loud voice.
“When I started my job as a newsman in Bamyan, the town crier was the only way to inform people about events. After announcing some news and ads like sport events, executions and so on. I got famous,” he says, “In that time we didn’t use so much paper so I had to memorize everything. Now it is easier to bring everyone the news, and ads. It is written on paper and I then read the announcements to the public.”
Bamyan is a mountainous province in central Afghanistan. Despite the growth of media in the country, Bamyan, because it is so remote, is rarely covered.
Only one radio and national television broadcasts from Bamyan, but its coverage is limited.
It means most people in the city, like shopkeeper Zahra Laali, get their news and public announcements from Juma Khan, who is also called ‘Landani’.
“It is more than 10 years ago that I came to Bamyan province and opened my shop here, mostly I get information about events, news and commercials via Landani,” she says, “I think he is doing a very important job, as radio and TV broadcasting is just for a few hours here and most people don’t have access to them.”
Because of his job as a source of local news, people call Juma Khan, “Landani,” which in Persian means “the Londoner”.
The name is a joking reference to his rivalry with BBC radio.
When Landani walks through the city, most people come out to hear the latest news.
“When I announce something everyone pays attention to my voice, what is being said by me,” he says, “They want to know what is going to happen in the province. As you followed me for few minutes in the city, you saw how many people were pay attention to me and they called on me to tell them what is new.”
Juma Khan receives between 6 and 10 items of news and ads each day, mostly from the public and the local government.
Kazim, who works for the media department of Bamyan municipality, also takes his announcements to Khan to deliver.
It is the most efficient way to deliver the news, he says.
“Our announcement today is about a big campaign for city cleaning that we are going to start. We are also asking people to keep the city clean. That is why I took the announcement to Landani to inform people and ask them to help us,” he says, “I paid him when I gave him the letter, as he is famous in town everyone pays attention to him.”
Juma Khan enjoys his job and says he will continue for as long as he can.
“For every announcement I receive US$3-4,” says Khan, “I am happy with my job, but recently I became weak, sometimes I feel pain in my legs and waist but I will do my job up to end of my life...”
Bamyan has among the lowest rates of education in Afghanistan. And no one is Khan’s family is literate enough to take over.
But for now, Landani is still going strong, and is the most trusted source of news in Bamyan.