BBC Radio 4 will be airing five episodes of an English adapted version of the Afghan radio soap opera The Pulay Poray (“Across the Border.”) This will be running from Monday June 18th to Friday June 22nd, broadcast daily at 11.45am and 7.45pm on Radio 4.
The English version of the cross border drama presents a slice of domestic life set in a village in the untamed, mountainous tribal lands of the Afghan people where the only law is tribal law. The five-part drama, based on daily radio soap The Pulay Poray is made by PACT Radio by and for Pashtoons. It reflects the lives, culture and beliefs of their listeners. Pashtoons make up the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, and also straddle the border into neighbouring Pakistan.
The cross border radio drama focusses on three families: the wealthy landowners (Akbar Khan’s family), the shopkeeper (Sardar Aka) and the poor farmers (Mewa Gul’s family). These families have been chosen to carry the themes of the cross border Radio Drama.
Some of these themes include the harmful effects of giving refuge to outlaws, broad-based traditional and co-education, livestock issues, widow’s life and rights, religious and contemporary education under one roof, mother-and-child health, IDP issues and community mobilization to help displaced people. Along with this it encourages community mobilization for conflict resolution; organizing the community along traditional lines (jirga) and empowering the community to solve their problems themselves, rather than look to government or international agencies to do so. In the best tradition of storytelling, The Pulay Poray Drama mixes good entertainment with a strong educational message.
The Pulay Poray drama is produced by PACT Radio. Besides the radio drama, PACT Radio produces twelve hours of daily topical, cultural, magazine and relevant religious programmes. A storyline reporter provides a link between factual needs based reporting for PACT Radio and the representation of these issues in the radio drama.
The Pulay Poray was started by John Butt who has over 20 years of experience in setting up educational radio soap operas. He has worked previously in several other countries on such dramas with the first of these being the ground breaking BBC Radio soap opera for Afghanistan, New Home New Life.
Liz Rigbey is former editor of The Archers. The Archers was the original invention of incorporating educational messages into a modern radio drama format. It was Liz Rigbey’s idea to broadcast an English version of The Pulay Poray Drama as a window onto the lives of ordinary Afghan folk in the border regions. It is an Above The Title production for Radio 4.