January 2018: Dr Hashem Slaimankhel

I’ve been reading tributes to Dr Hashem Slaimankhel, outstanding Auckland community leader who was killed in a terrorist attack while visiting his home country of Afghanistan. Several years ago when I was working on The Crescent Moon book and exhibition, I interviewed five members of the Slaimankhel family, including Dr Slaimankhel’s nephew Omar, who has been speaking about his uncle. I’ve just been reading about them again. All of them are keen sportsmen, and one said, ‘I describe myself as a Kiwi, but inside I’m a full-blooded Afghan.’ Foot firmly in both camps. Over the summer I’ve been reading about Afghanistan, and Gaza, and Cambodia, and it has all reminded me how illusory ‘them over there’ and ‘us over here’ is. We’re all in it together.