Exlied Afghani singers to perform at west London Festival

Image above: Poster for ACAA Summer Festival

Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) is bringing together popular Afghan performers

In Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to outlaw music and culture. Under their rule, performance and music are banned. In a show of defiance The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) is bringing together popular Afghan performers, forced to live in exile, for a musical celebration at Cranford Community College in Hounslow, on Sunday 23 June (10am-8pm).

Award-winning singer-songwriter Ghezaal Enayat will headline. Born in Kabul, she rose to fame with her hit ‘Dil-e-Beqarar’ but, forced to flee her homeland, she now lives in Canada. Other  performers include singers Hashmat Ehsanmand, Hamid Erfan and Timor Shaidaie, and dance duo Anja Samim. All now live in exile. The festival is hosted by US based Afghan journalist, Nazira Karimi.

It is almost three years since the Taliban’s take over, causing eight million people to flee the country, and this year’s festival, which is themed ‘Our Home’, will be a “triumphant celebration of creativity and resilience.”

Running for its fifth year, this annual ACAA event now receives funding from the UK Arts Council. It is a unique chance to see popular Afghan performers, enjoy poetry by children and women’s groups and sample food and crafts from across the globe. Politicians and local councillors will speak during the day and there will be activities for children.

The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) is a West London based charity which offers education, mentoring and integration support to refugees living in the UK and advocates for the rights of women living in Afghanistan.

It was founded by Dr Nooralhaq Nasimi, a refugee from Afghanistan, in 1999, after he arrived in England with his family in the back of a refrigerated lorry. Dr Nasimi was awarded the MBE in the 2023 New Year Honours List.

The ACAA now works beyond the Afghan diaspora and continues to develop services people need, most recently setting up programmes specially aimed at Ukrainian arrivals. The ACAA works in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, and has just started a new programme in Kent.

Images: Performer Ghezaal Enayat; Journalist Nazira Karimi

5,000 people expected to turnout to West London event

With an estimated attendance of over 5,000 people, the family friendly festival is expected to be one of the largest cultural gatherings of Afghan people in the world.

Speaking ahead of the festival, Ghezaal Enayat said:

“I can’t wait to be in London and to perform in front of the crowds at the ACAA Refugee Week Festival. As a diaspora we know what it means to suffer and this event is an opportunity to celebrate the life we have and the people of our beautiful nation. Singing and performance are integral to the culture of Afghanistan.

“It is always a joy to be part of this sort of event, it’s a moment to remind people how beautiful a free Afghanistan will be.”.

Founder and Director of the ACAA, Nooralhaq Nasimi MBE, said:

“We are so excited to be hosting our fifth festival to celebrate our beautiful nation and its people. I am grateful to the performers for coming all the way to London to be part of our event.

“As the American song says, ‘Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home’, and the people of Afghanistan have had to live that involuntary reality for too long. This summer we will come together to celebrate our culture in defiance of the oppressive tyrants who have, for now, kicked us out of the place of our birth.”

The event is for ages five years old and upward and tickets are available online and on the day.

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