Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Bakht Zamina - بخت زمينه

There is something incredibly iconic about media personalities who die young - James Dean, Che Guevara, Princess Diana, Madhubala - their images frozen in youth forever. 

Bakht Zamina, بخت زمينه, is amongst those iconic names and was caught up in the conflicts between Soviet loyalists and the resistance at the start of the Afghan troubles beginning in the seventies. Her loyalties to the resistance and her songs of support meant that she ultimately paid with her life.

In perhaps, one of the clearest surviving recordings in the public sphere, she performs Akhtar De Mazedara. One for a glimpse into what was certainly a beautiful past.

Tor_Khan تور خان


  1. I was very interested in your post on Bakht Zamina, and the video to which you linked.

    Do you know if any of Bakht Zamina's music was ever released commercially and whether it is possible to purchase a collection of her songs? (I have seen the various video clips on Youtube but the sound quality on these tends to be poor.)

  2. Dear Dave,

    You are right about the surviving Youtube clips. This is the reason that I made the selection that I did here.

    I too would be more than interested in obtaining a full album. I'm sure they exist, but they would be over 30 years old.

    Would be interesting to know how easy an album would be to come by.

  3. Dear Tor

    From the little research I have done, I agree it would be extraordinarily difficult to track down a collection - even if one did exist. (I am at a disadvantage from the start as I am not even a Pushto speaker so can only search English language sources.)

    I am collecting as many different Bakht Zamina songs as I can find. So far I have around 25 mp3s of her songs. If you want these 25 songs, I will be happy to post these to you on a memory stick if you email your postal address to me at . Alternatively I could try to zip them and upload them to a file sharing site if you prefer, and then give you the URL so you can retrieve them.

    Best wishes,

  4. Dear Dave,

    The intrigue grows ... Would be glad to hear what you've got and learning a little more about your interest. How did you come across Bakht Zamina's music?

    From a iconic point of view she represents so much ... the Afghan resistance ... youth ... beauty ... the songs and so on.

  5. Dear Tor

    No exciting intrigue, I fear:

    I am English/American but have always enjoyed good music from all over the world - with a particular interest in music from Latin America.

    A year or so ago I had been listening to some Pakistani music and an acquaintance suggested that I explore some music from Afghanistan, especially from the 1970s, e.g Ustad Mahwash and Ahmad Zahir. I listened to a few songs and I liked what I heard.

    Some time later I happened to mention this to an Afghan woman who works in my office. She was surprised that I was listening to such artists, and started lending me her old cassettes of performances by Ahmad Zahir (some recorded at private parties in the 1970s) and various other artists. She is passionate about this period of Afghan music, as it was the music of her childhood, and she tells me that it represents the Afghanistan of a different age - an age when there was great hope in society.

    I am now a big fan Ahmad Zahir or - as she calls him - "the Afghan Elvis".

    More recently, she sent me a couple of Bakht Zamina songs, and told me about Bakht Zamina's tragic story. My friend warned me that Bakht Zamina's music was what she called "Afghan heavy", and she predicted I would not like it.

    Well, she was wrong. I was captivated straight away, by BZ's singing style, her beauty and most of all by the songs themselves. More than any singer I have encountered, BZ almost seems to sing with her eyes. They are so expressive. Looking at some YouTube clips, on some songs she looks like she was carrying very deep hurt and sadness.

    I am also aware that - like Chilean singer/songwriter/ guitarist Victor Jara who was murdered by the Pinochet regime - BZ wound up paying for her music with her life.

    I am unable to fully appreciate BZ's songs, as I have no knowledge of Pushto. Kami Dari yaad daram, ama besyar khub gapzadah nah maytonom. However even my very very limited knowledge of Dari does not help because, as far as I can discern, almost all of BZ's songs are in Pushto.

    As it appears to me that not too much of BZ's music has survived - and as I can't seem to find any commercial releases - I have tried to garner what I can from the web.

    To attempt to improve the collection I have been contacting a few people (like you!) who show a keen interest in BZ, in the hope that I might be able to find a few more songs that way. I have managed to get a couple of extra bits and pieces like this.

    Anyway, what I have is all here:

    Sound quality ranges from acceptable to quite poor.

    You are welcome to download and copy anything that I have. If you have any BZ recordings that I have not got already, I would be most grateful for a copy.

    Kind regards,



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