Archive for November, 2011

Afghanistan: A Look Back

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2011 by stevemccurry

Early Days | The Soviet Invasion

1979, 1980

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Nuristan, Afghanistan

I slipped into Afghanistan across the border with Pakistan in 1979.  I went with a couple of guides who did not speak English.
I certainly didn’t speak Dari or Pashto so our only form of communication was improvised sign language.
I was woefully unprepared. Among my belongings were a plastic cup, a Swiss Army knife, two camera bodies, four lenses,
a bag of film and a few bags of airline peanuts.

A photograph I made of a helicopter that had been sabotaged by the Mujahadeen.
This was near an army garrison which had defected en masse. New York Times, December 27, 1979

Two government collaborators executed by Mujahadeen near Jalalabad

Two government collaborators executed by Mujahadeen near Jalalabad

 My naiveté was breathtaking, yet my Afghan guides protected me and treated me as their guest.
It was my first experience with the legendary Afghan hospitality.

Fathers and sons fought side by side

Fathers and sons fought side by side

  

Evening Prayers

Evening Prayers

 

Planting land mines in Logar Province to thwart the government troops' advance

Planting land mines in Logar Province to thwart the government troops’ advance

 

Young boy joins guerilla movement in Nuristan

Young boy joins guerilla movement in Nuristan

 

 Praying along the Kunar River

Praying along the Kunar River

I went back when the Russians invaded.
I traveled with many different mujahadeen and militia groups.
We mainly traveled at night to avoid being spotted by the Soviet helicopters.
Most of the time we walked, but a few times we were able to borrow horses.

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Mujahadeen mourn loss of their brother-in-arms

I was always astonished at the continual pipeline of weapons and supplies going into Afghanistan from Pakistan around the clock.
Rockets, mortar rounds, ammunition, were carried in by camels, donkeys, and fighters.
It was only later that we found out the staggering amount of money supplied by the U.S. to make it happen.

 

When I went back over the border into Pakistan, I had blisters, saddle sores, and filthy clothing into which I had sewn rolls of film,
which were among the first images of the conflict.

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Fighters carry a disassembled Russian anti-aircraft gun to move it to a
position overlooking the valley

 

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   I visited a government garrison at Asmar District, Kunar Province,  where three hundred soldiers defected to the Mujahadeen.  New York Times, December 29, 1979

I visited a government garrison at Asmar District, Kunar Province, where three hundred soldiers defected to the Mujahadeen.
New York Times, December 29, 1979

Christian Science Monitor, January, 1980

Christian Science Monitor, January, 1980

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TIME Magazine, April, 1980 I took these pictures in Nangahar Province. My coverage over several trips for TIME, was the basis for winning the Robert Capa Gold Medal award.

TIME Magazine, April, 1980
I took these pictures in Nangahar Province.
My coverage over several trips for TIME, was the basis for
winning the Robert Capa Gold Medal award.

AFGHN-13202; Afghanistan; 1980

Strategy session in Kunar Province

Stern Magazine, 1980 Mujahadeen using goat skins to cross rivers

Stern Magazine, 1980
Mujahadeen using goat skins to cross rivers

International Herald Tribune, 1980

International Herald Tribune, 1980

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Commanders meet with tribal elders in Nangahar Province

Paris Match, 1980. I made this photograph of government soldiers in Kunar Province.

Paris Match, 1980.
I made this photograph of government soldiers in Kunar Province.

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Men used weapons from swords and axes to ancient guns and rocket propelled grenades

Over the years, I went back more than dozens of times on assignment for National Geographic, Time Magazine, ABC News,
and other news outlets.  I have spent time in Afghanistan during invasions, retreats, truces, and relative peace.
Almost every time I returned, the power centers had shifted. In a great game of musical chairs, elders, warlords, criminals, and
mullahs’ power grows and diminishes as predictably as the phases of the moon.

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AFGHN-13198; Afghanistan; 1980. A young girl holds her sibling.

Many families left their destroyed villages to live with relatives
in other regions of the country

 

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Nari District, Kunar Province

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As much as outsiders have tried to “re-form” the country in their own
image, Afghanistan  has been able to absorb the blows of superpowers, and
remain essentially the same.

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The interesting thing  is that the people trying to change it,  change more than the country
does even after Herculean efforts of  governments, NGO’s, and coalitions.

 

00829_01, Afghanistan, 1980, AFGHN-13342

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This village was destroyed by government forces in the Spring of 1979 because they had
given refuge to Mujahadeen.

The viciousness of the Soviet attacks forced millions to flee their homes for Pakistan and Iran, and
contributed to what the Afghanistan scholar, Louis Dupree, called “Migratory Genocide.”
By 1986, five million Afghans had left their country.

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Forty-six percent of all casualties were caused by bombings from airplanes or helicopters.

We invite you to see this blog on our new website:  http://www.stevemccurry.com

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More Fun and Games

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2011 by stevemccurry

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Wodaabe Tribe, Niger

Laughter is by definition healthy.
- Doris Lessing,  Nobel Laureate in Literature

HONDURAS-10027

La Fortuna, Honduras

CHINA-10114

Shanghai Circus, Shanghai, China 

RUSSIA-10031

Moscow, Russia 

ITALY-10338

Perugia, Italy

If music be the food of love, play on.
- William Shakespeare

_SM15545, Havana, Cuba, 2010, CUBA-10020

Havana, Cuba

INDIA-11290

India

INDIA-10621play

Rajasthan, India

INDIA-11331

Lucknow, India

No human being is innocent, but there is a class of innocent human actions called games.
- W. H. Auden

00660_14, Beqaa Valley, Lebanon, 2005, LEBANON-10074

Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

TURKEY-10098

Mersin, Turkey 

Could we look into the head of a Chess player,
we should see there a whole world of feelings,
images, ideas, emotion and passion.
- Alfred Binet

INDIA-10232

Jodhpur, India

00635_19, PERU-10004NF6, Alto Churumazu, Yanesha People, Peru, 2004

Peru

CAMBODIA-10463

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Some people believe football is a matter of
life and death.
I’m very disappointed with that attitude.
I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.
- Bill Shankly, English soccer manager.

AUSTRALIA-10008

Maningrida, Australia

TIBET-10830

Tibet

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Young Shepherd during Holi, Rajasthan, India

We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.
- Immanual Kant

TURKEY-10037NF

Istanbul, Turkey

Until one has loved an animal,
a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.
- Anatole France

INDIA-11048NF

Mumbai/Bombay, India

 

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Buzkashi, Kabul, Afghanistan

BURMA-10048

Yangon, Myanmar/Burma

They say golf is like life, but don’t believe them.
Golf is more complicated than that.
- Gardner Dickinson

BANGLADESH-10034

Bangladesh

 

00253_10, YEMEN-10058NF, Yemen, 1997

Yemen

 

You must invent your own games and
teach us old ones how to play.
- Nikki Giovanni

BURMA-10278

Burma/Myanmar

INDIA-10851

Varanasi, India

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