Fred Smith is no ordinary Australian diplomat. In postings served in the Uruzgan Province of Afghanistan, he built relationships with tribal leaders while continuing his side-career as a folk musician.
Smith, who has written about his experiences in a book, The Dust of Uruzgan, tells Michelle Grattan for the first three or four months he stashed his guitar under the bed.
“You know, I wanted to be taken seriously as a political officer and not seen as a folk singer. But eventually as I became more comfortable on the base, I got the guitar out and started writing songs and put together bands … and of course there wasn’t much going on on a Saturday night in Tarin Kowt so a lot of people would come,” he says.