Nāzo Tokhī (نازو توخۍ), commonly known as Nāzo Anā (Pashto: نازو انا, “Nazo the grandmother”), was a Pashtun female poet and a literary figure of the Pashto language. Mother of the famous early-18th century Afghan King Mirwais Hotak, she grew up in an influential family in the Kandahar region. Nazo Tokhi is remembered as a brave woman warrior in the history of Afghanistan, who eventually became the legendary “Mother of Afghan Nation”.
Early life and family background
Nazo Tokhi was born in or about 1651 in the village of Spozhmayiz Gul near Thazi, Kandahar Province of Afghanistan, into a powerful and wealthy Pashtun family. Her father, Sultan Malakhai Tokhi, was a prominent head of the Tokhi Pashtun tribe and governor of the Ghazni region. She was married to Salim Khan Hotak, son of Karam Khan. The famous Afghan ruler of the Hotak dynasty, Mirwais Hotak, was her son, and Mahmud Hotak and Hussain Hotak were her grandsons.
Nazo Ana became a learned poet and courteous person, people knew her by her loving and caring. Nazo’s father paid close attention to her education and upbringing. He induced training and full education from the learned personalities of the time in Kandahar. She eventually became the legendary “Mother of Afghan Nation”, and gained authority through her poetry and upholding of the Pashtunwali code. She called for Pashtunwali to be the law of the confederacy of the Pashtun tribes, and she arbitrated conflicts between Ghilji and Sadozai Pashtun tribes so as to encourage their alliance against the Persian Safavid rulers. Her contribution as a poet is uniquely considered invaluable even today.
When her father was killed in battle near Sur mountain, her brother went into the battlefield to
avenge his father’s death, leaving her in charge of household and fortress. She put on a sword and defended the fortress alongside the men against the enemy.
Below is a piece of the poetry works of Nazo Tokhi.
Dew drops from an early dawn narcissus
as if tear drops from a melancholy eye,
O beauty, I asked, what makes you cry
life is too short for me, it answered
My beauty blooms and withers in a moment
as if smile comes and forever fades away.— Nazo Tokhi
It is believed that Nazo Ana had a special dream on the night her son Mirwais Hotak was born.
On the night Mirwais was born (1673), his mother, Nazo Ana, dreamed of Shaykh Beṭ Nīkə (who is the folkloric leader or ancestor of the Bettani confederacy of Pashtuns). He told Nazo to take best care of the new baby because when the child grows up, the country would be blessed by his services. Nazo Ana, from time to time, recalled the miraculous dream to her son and advise him to perform deeds with authenticity. Young Mirwais eternally followed his mother’s advice.
Nazo Ana died in or about 1717 at the approximate age of 66, two years after her son’s (Mirwais’) death. After Nazo Ana’s death, her cause was picked up by Zarghuna Ana, the mother of Afghan Emir Ahmad Shah Durrani.