Posts tagged Kunaev

Our Guests: Anara and her family

What fun to meet and spend two days with Anara and her family.  We got to know her and her mother Encar better, also there were two daughters under the age of three to add to this mix. (think distractions) I asked both of them to tell me some Kazakh proverbs and what I learned from this is that proverbs don’t just come out at one’s bidding. I know this from prior experience that you have to talk on other subjects for them to erupt into the middle of the conversation. However, one proverb that Anara focused on was: “The daughter is a guest.” This means that whenever girls marry they leave their home, seemingly for good.

Anara explained how there are really two kinds of events when a marriage happens, that is if there is no “kidnapping of the bride” which is cheaper and more like elopement. The first is when the father has asked the courting man for a kind of dowry and the husband-to-be is to come up with that be it money or livestock or whatever is agreed upon. Everyone is sad, there is crying and wailing (I’m not sure if this is put on for drama effect or if in fact the daughter is really going to be missed). Then, the second ceremony is when the bride does all the crying and when she enters into her new family of her husband’s family there is a certain protocol of who says what when and she is to bow to each member of the family and someone is to take her veil away. It seemed fairly complex in the explaining of a Kazakh tradition in English. Encar, Anara’s mother would say things to her in Kazakh, then Anara would translate that to me.

I got some facts wrong about Kunaev in my blog post yesterday (Thanks for pointing that out Otto). Because of this tedious procedure of waiting for the translation and writing it down with wrong spelling, I made a major mistake. Kunaev was NOT a good Kazakh. Also, if I do NOT write something down I hear or think I heard, should not trust in my rusty memory.

Leave a comment »

Talk with Anara about Kazakhstan (Part II)

I found out a little more about the December 16, 1986 demonstration that isn’t much talked about openly among the Kazakh people, just bits and pieces are shared amongst themselves. In any case, it was called a student uprising and many Kazakh people were imprisoned from 1986 until Nazarbayev became president of the new country in 1991. Those who were jailed were finally released after five years. If Russians, who lived in Almaty at that time, are asked about this event, they are somewhat dismissive about it. However, a memorial commemorating Kazakh independence is on Mir (Peace) Street, close to the five-star Ankara Hotel, in Almaty.

There was a movie originally titled Izgoi which means “Social Outcast” in Kazakh but the title was changed to “Running Target.” Most Kazakh people know about this film which was based on the 1986 Kazakh revolt against Moscow power and domination over Kazakhstan. Kunaev had been a Kazakh leader for many years. However, the communist leader who was meant to replace Kunaev in 1986 was Kalbin, who was a Russian. Kalbin had been sent down to Almaty from Moscow to rule over the Kazakhs with the hidden agenda to destroy any remnants of the Kazakh language and culture. Fortunately, Nazarbayev replaced this forbidding influence from the north and has been a leader representing Kazakhstan since 1997.

Anara’s father was an assistant to the famous movie director, Talgat Timenov. (He worked with Bonderchuk when they produced the movie “The Nomads” about 5-6 years ago.) Anara’s mother, Encar, knows the Kazakh actor who played the boy who had escaped from the Soviet police during the 1986 demonstration and had wandered around in the steppes. In this fictional account perhaps based on a true story, the boy was protected by a Russian woman acted by a famous Russian actress Nona Marzdukova until he was captured again and put in jail.

What was interesting to me is that Anara was only 10 years old when the 1986 demonstration happened, back then Stalin and Lenin were highly revered. Anara’s father knew better that these two early leaders of the Soviet Union were responsible for killing millions of people, not just in Kazakhstan, but throughout the former S.U. There was a huge disappointment for Anara to find out from her father that they, as school children, had been lied to for so long from their Moscow-approved history books. So strange for her to have this new knowledge that Stalin killed millions of people.

Anara wishes now that she had listened to her Kazakh father more. She grew up in a time when history was changing very quickly. She knows very well about Russian history and culture but admits she doesn’t know much about her own Kazakh history, as rich as it is. History continues to change in present day Kazakhstan, I want to know as much as I can about its past history. My Kazakh students and friends, like Anara, are my best informants.

Comments (1) »