The 21st Century
(A Girl Born in Afghanistan)
For unaccompanied mixed choir
Also available in abbreviated form as A Girl Born in Afghanistan - duration 4:00
Composed in 2002 for the Waging Peace Through Singing competition. The text is adapted from the Nobel Lecture given on December 10, 2001, by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was awarded the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. The lecture text is Copyright by The Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, 2001, and is used by permission.
"The 21st Century (A Girl Born in Afghanistan)" was premiered by the William & Mary Choir, under the direction of Dr. Constance DeFotis, at the College of William & Mary's Charter Day celebration on February 8, 2003. "It's a message of desperate significance," Dr. DeFotis said of the piece. College President Timothy Sullivan called the performance "brilliant and beautiful." Mark Boyle of Millersville University calls the piece "a love letter to a possible world in which we care for the least of us and love without fear."
The piece was also selected as a Finalist in the 2003 Briar Cliff University New Choral Music Competition, where it was performed in concert on May 2, 2003, by the Briar Cliff University Chamber Choir under the direction of Dr. Mark Simmons. "It is a very, very powerful piece!" says Brenda C. Kayne, director of the Euphonia! choir in Overland Park, Kansas.
Connecticut Choral Artists (Concora) included "The 21st Century (A Girl Born in Afghanistan)" on their CD entitled "Songs & Stories of Liberation."
The 21st Century (A Girl Born in Afghanistan)
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies,
Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, in Afghanistan, a girl will be born.
Her mother will hold her and feed her,
comfort her and care for her -
just as any mother would anywhere in the world.
In these basic acts of human nature, humanity knows no divisions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire.
Awareness of the bonds that bind us all - in pain as in prosperity - has gripped young and old.
In the 21st Century we must look beyond States,
we must look beneath the surface of nations.
We must focus on improving the conditions of men and women.
We must begin with the young Afghan girl.
Saving that one life is to save humanity itself.
In this new century, we must start from understanding
Peace must be made real and tangible in the daily lives of every man and woman.
The notion that what is ours must conflict with what is theirs is both false and dangerous.
It has resulted in endless enmity and conflict.
It has led men to commit great crimes in the name of a higher power.
It need not be so.
We can love what we are, without hating what we are not, without hating who we are not.
Your Majesties, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The girl born in Afghanistan today
Is just one test of our humanity -
But it is the only test that matters.