Balochi and Bravi Academies Should Do More: Manzoor Baloch
Interviewed by Muhammad Akbar Notezai
Manzoor Baloch is a well known multilingual poet, writer and a lecturer of Brahui language at the University of Balochistan in Quetta. He spoke to The Baloch Hal in an exclusive interview about a number of cultural topics concerning Balochistan. Excerpts.
What is culture?
Well, whenever we go through the term culture, then some people call it tradition and others describe it as custom. Scholars have differences with regard to the definition of these terms. They talk of civilization with the term culture. But broadly speaking, ‘culture is the interaction of particular groups, and it is bound by economic system’.
We often say Baloch is culturally a secular nation. Baloch is self-respected. Baloch is hospitable and so on. Or, those features which expose your emotions and feelings. In recent times, culture gives several meanings. It, I think, is impossible to cover the concept of culture by shedding light upon its few aspects. But if you are talking about post-modernism, you language, its structure are very crucial.
What do you say about its evolutionary process?
In the very commencement, people were farmers. Subsequently, they learnt hunting. Then gradually and slowly they started developing. But, in contemporary times, the way of living is entirely changed, remember, a man’s mind’s evolutionary process takes place very slowly.
Accordingly, as far as we Balochs are concerned, some of us are still living a nomadic life, and some of us are the part of cyber society.
But, in spite of being the people of cyber society, our mental evolution is quite slow. We are still tribal-minded. Unfortunately, no one is paying heed to enhance our mental evolution. In Balochistan, if number of schools, colleges and universities are increasing, and with the same ratio our mental evolution is expanding.
How would you define the Baloch culture?
The Baloch culture is not merely our nomadic lifestyle, huts, abodes and sheep grazing. Look at the way we interacting with each other. In detail, it is impossible to know its back ground. Because our Balochi code of conduct, as I say it, is not in written form. It might have been lost. Nevertheless, we can bring into light our hospitality, generosity, taking revenge, reverence, etc, in it. Whenever our Baloch elders issue a verdict at a gathering, then we give the reference of our Balochi custom that it says so. Actually, they don’t have it in written form.
How do you compare Balochi culture with other nations’ cultures?
Baloch nation, if it has been living with other nations, then it possesses a resemblance like them. Because due to interaction with each other, culturally, many good features diffuse, likely Baloch nation possesses alike properties with its neighborhood nations.
On the other hand, if it is isolated from other nations, so it will have different features from them culturally. Likewise, Mr. Surat Khan Marri uses the terms ‘Heterogeneous’ and ‘Homogenous’ in his writings. It means that a society can be of a same color, or it can be a mixture of different colors. Similarly, Balochi society is full of colors: It has many languages, shapes and structures. If an outsider comes to Balochistan, he gets merged into Baloch society.
What challenges does the Baloch culture face due to official negligence?
If we have a look at the past colonialism, European countries would go to poor countries of Subcontinent, Middle East under the pretext of prospering them culturally. But in reality, their aim was to exploit them. It is said that the propertied class claims mendaciously that it would prosper the poor class’ literature, language. In reality, they merely exploit them, not to prosper them. They don’t let their literature and language flourish. Similar is the case with Baloch nation as the Pakistanis often depict them as savages, wicked and uncivilized people in a typical colonialist tone. So, how can you expect such a government to flourish the Balochi culture?
Then how can it be revived?
It is our responsibility to revive and promote our culture because we ourselves can take care of our language in a batter way. It is also our responsibility, not that of outsiders, to promote the Balochi culture. Balochi and Bravi academies, despite receiving grants, are not striving for Balochi language and literature. There are not enough Balochi magazines and newspapers in the market. We are dependent on newspapers and magazines published in other languages.
How many languages does Baloch nation speak?
Besides, Balochi and Bravi, the Baloch nation speaks Sindhi, Persian, Aghani and Siraiki.
Balochs are divided among three countries; therefore, due to this major factor along with neo-colonialism the Balochi culture is diminishing. Likewise, Iran’s Balochs have adopted the culture of Iranians, while Afghanistan’s Balochs and Pakistan’s Sindhi Balochs have adopted their Afghani, Sindhi culture. Accordingly, Balochs don’t have a nucleus or center, they are dispersed culturally.
The arrival of Afghan refugess in Balochistan is the other factor. They are expanding in interior and exterior Balochistan to counter Balochs.
Baloch has culturally a splendid past, but it is under threats in present, so how can the splendid past be resurrected in future?
No, you cannot talk of Past. Past has gone; and there is no use crying for past.
However, according to present time’s needs, requirements, thoughts and technologies, we can reform ourselves culturally. Also, if we want to remain alive in the history, then we must keep our literature, language and recognition alive.
What has been the relation of Hindus with Balochs, culturally?
Hindus are culturally merged with Balochs. They have had amicable relations with Balochs. Its typical example is the before partition’s period that Hindus and Balochs were living together peacefully although the whole subcontinent was in chaos. In present times, Hindus are being deliberately harmed for the purpose of accusing Balochs. In reality, Balochs have been very sympathetic to Hindus.
How much have the Afghan refugees changed Balochistan’s demography?
Their arrival has affected us tremendously as 50 per cent of Afghan refuges are living in Quetta. As a result, many Pashtun nationalists are stressing to be given equal rights in Balochistan. It is due to the same factor. In previous times, local Pashtuns were in less number but now their number has substantially increased due to the influx of Afghan refugees. According to a recent report, in upcoming decade, number of Karachi’s Pashtuns will be 28 per cent, and Urdu Speakers will be 29 per cent. And same is going to happen in Balochistan.
Published in The Baloch Hal on January 20, 2013