« Jeremiah House 2018 | Main | Transgender »

The Dust of Uruzgan

With special guest:

  • Fred Smith

It is difficult to categorise Fred Smith. After completing University qualifications he became a diplomat but he is also a musician who has made “seven or eight” albums. When a diplomatic position in Afghanistan became available he decided to apply against some professional advice because he looked on it as a type of therapy. So after being selected to represent Australia in this beautiful but troubled land it was off to Kabul with guitar in hand.

It has become Australia’s longest war and Fred presents the first comprehensive on-the-ground account of Australia’s mission in his book The Dust of Uruzgan. Today we get to speak with Fred Smith about his role with the competing interests in that country, the Government, the tribal leaders, the insurgent factors, drug lords, the general population, the national security forces and the internationals. When Fred was not busy dealing with all these interests he wrote candid, in some cases heart wrenching, music about his experiences and those of his countrymen far from home. Fred’s website has information about how to obtain Fred’s music and a lot more besides.

In his song Dust of Uruzgan Fred wrote about an Australian soldier Ben Ranaudo who tragically lost his life to an IED (improvised explosive device). Then came the moment when Ben’s mother was in the audience to listen to the song being performed by Fred. This was clearly an emotional moment for both Fred and Ben Ranaudo’s mother which ended with sincere thanks to Fred for filling in some of the blanks with what happened to Ben and for immortalising him in this way.

Families back home have played a major part in life after Afghanistan for our soldiers and those who work alongside of them. Fred Smith demonstrates to us both his courage in accepting that his life could be cut short by an unseen attacker as well as his remarkable insight and humour. Now safely back home Fred delights in his family life with his wife and young daughter and there is so much to learn from him as he articulates what makes him tick as a father, a diplomat and a musician.

Fred Smith

Over the last 16 years Fred Smith has emerged as one of Australia’s most interesting songwriters. He has spent the last 16 years working on peace keeping missions in Afghanistan and the South Pacific, touring in America and travelling the Australian festival circuit. Fred was the first Australian diplomat to be posted to Uruzgan in July of 2009. He wrote a powerful collection of songs about the realities of life for soldiers and civilians in this difficult war, recently released on a high acclaimed album called Dust of Uruzgan.

He has put out about eight CDs, two of which won National Film and Sound Archives Awards. Some of these were joint efforts with Liz Frencham and the Spooky Men’s Chorale.

Song selection by our guest: Live Like an Afghan by Fred Smith & Beautiful Girl by Fred Smith

Note: This program is an encore presentation of the one aired on 31 August 2017.

Listen Now (mp3)

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend