Developing Tolerance and Respect
More than two thousand Bashkirs and about 9 thousand Tatars live in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
‘TAN’ Tatar-Bashkir National Cultural Centre was established in 1994 with the aim of developing the self-awareness of citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan of Tatar and Bashkir origin, preserving and developing national languages and cultures. The charter of the Tatar-Bashkir Centre was adopted at the conference on April 27, 1994. The first head of the association was Saniya Dinikeyeva. At present, the chairman of the public association ‘TAN’ Tatar-Bashkir cultural center is Rafik Valiyev, Candidate of Technical Sciences, Honored Coach of the RK, Judge of the international category.
"In 2005, I was elected Chairman of the Board, and before that I was both a member of the center and deputy. Currently, I am a sponsor and head of ethnocultural association. Our Sabantui has been interesting from the very first days, both in terms of sport and culture," said Rafik Valiyev.
"The biggest achievement - our ensemble ‘Duslyk’ by order of the Minister of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan last year was awarded the People's title. This is a great achievement in creative terms. I always dreamed that the cultural part of the association was always at a high level. On the occasion of our 25th anniversary last year, we awarded special badges to all activists, former chairmen and elders. The medals were produced for the anniversary of the center thanks to Ravil Monashov. I gave an idea, and he is the author of the project. Ravil Monashov was the chairman of the center, he is our sponsor. We marked Zukhra Sayapova with breastplates at the celebration of Sabantui here in Nur-Sultan, she was a deputy, the chairman of the center, Roza Bektemirova taught both Tatar and Bashkir languages in Sunday school. Aksakals of our center are especially pleased, as they have been at the origins of the center since its foundation.
The Sunday school has been actively operating for the last ten years, and high-level teachers have gathered here. Every year the school is attended by 50-60 people aged from 4 to 17 years. There they not only study languages, but also traditions, dances, basics of singing, i.e. completely applied art. We gather people in our school who can teach and teach people this knowledge. Now there are difficulties in learning Tatar, just like in Tatarstan itself. The living environment defines the language. It's easier for us to study Tatar now, because almost every pupil at school knows Kazakh.
I also studied Tatar in the first four grades. The Kazakh language has improved, and I can say that the grammar is the same. 20-30% of words are absolutely the same. Those who come from Kazan to represent Sabantui, and have a good knowledge of Tatar, understand Kazakh. Last year Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov came to Kazan and met with the First President of Kazakhstan. We had a meeting where the need for Tatar language teachers in the republic was raised.
As for the national culture and traditions, Tatar people do not forget about them, because the annual Sabantui unites them. Everything is presented at the holiday: our games, national cuisine and many other things. Last year on Sabantui in the capital there were about 400 gifts for the participants of the games, besides, the first 300 guests were given chak-chak. Another pride is our ensemble, where four girls sing. Now we are going to form a dance group to show our culture. We often perform, for example, in a recent charity event at the Sharapat Social Service Center. We also often perform at different venues, 2-3 times a year we fully stage a concert on our own. This year artists came to Kazan, but we opened the celebration ourselves, and only after 30-40 minutes did we give them the stage. They are surprised.
- Could you tell about the holiday, how long does it last and how it goes?
- The event is four hours long. At the beginning, the activists were awarded certificates of honor, honored veterans. Then comes the traditional Sabantui in three languages: Tatar, Bashkir and Kazakh. Kazakh song necessarily opens the holiday, followed by Tatar and Bashkir performances, and after that - songs in Russian. As for standards, how much history I studied, there is no concrete date of Sabantui, but Tatars at first built a bathhouse, lived there, then built a house. Sabantui was introduced from the first settlements in the European part when crops were sown. So after the end of the sowing season, they marked Sabantui. The word "sabantui" means Tatar "plow", and "that" means wedding. We delay the celebration of Sabantui. Why do we spend the last Sunday of June in coordination with the city administration, because the celebration of the City Day begins in the capital. We used to spend June 10-12, as soon as the sowing season ends. As soon as the City Day was marked, it was decided to hold the last celebration of Sabantui as the start of celebration of the Capital Day. From a full Sabantui in Nur-Sultan we do not do two things: do not arrange horse races because of certain inconveniences, for lack of horses, and staging a pole with gifts, although four times staged. It is not very convenient, there are certain requirements for that. Of course, we bet on large, anniversary Sabantui, but in the capital - no. In general, all the canons are observed. The same evening, Tatarstan hosts a Tatar party, where young people gather, communicate, guest artists from Tatarstan perform. In principle, we held a single regulation, the only thing is that everyone has their own zest. For example, in Kokshetau, Sabantui is held in the forest. In 20 kilometers from the city they go to the glade, put a stage, etc. They are so used to it. It's originally so right. They used to live in villages, but how do you do it in cities? They've got someone holding horses. In Tatarstan, I was at the competitions as the head of the International Belt Wrestling Federation, if it's possible, I'll go and see how the districts are held. The scale is sometimes different. The holiday necessarily includes congratulations, games, wrestling, awards, tea drinking, concerts, sports part, picnics. But in the conditions of the city, with the organization of the mayor’s office, we have arranged a shopping area.
Due to the opening of the new area last year, the geography of the holiday has increased. Celebration takes place in all regions of the country, plus in Bashkul village in East Kazakhstan region, besides the regional center, and Stepnogorsk in Akmola region, in Semey, in the village in Ust-Kamenogorsk were held. As far as I know, 23 Sabantuys were held in Kazakhstan this year. Last year the republican holiday was planned in Kyzylorda, but we will spend there this year, because in 2018 mayor of Kostanay agreed with the President of Tatarstan. This year we really postponed it to September, because we want to show the launch of the spacecraft. By the time the celebration would be at the end of May - beginning of June, because the sowing season is over, and it is already hot in Kyzylorda at this time. Usually this is never practiced, but as an exception, the republican Sabantui will be held in September. All chairmen of centers, youth wings, creative teams from 5-6 regions have been invited, we will also go, there will be artists from Kazan. The choice of the city for celebrating Sabantui is one by one. Next year we are planning to hold them either in Taldykorgan or in Taraz, they are determined. This issue is also being coordinated with the city mayor, so that the venue for the holiday is prepared to host guests and show everything. Currently, the two centres are negotiating with the World Congress of Tatars and the city administration. We want it to be not just a holiday of the Tatars, but a holiday for the whole regional centre, so that the city could thunder, have a rest and see. It's a mass festivity. We have been holding ‘Tatar qyzy’ contest for the last three years, and it is becoming popular every year. It's not yet known who will represent Kazakhstan at the international stage. This will be revealed by the results of the contest in Aktobe. But it's known that the winner will represent the country separately from the capital. This year, participants from seven regions wanted to come, but we overshadowed the national competition. Miss Tatar - 2019 international stage is held in Russia, not necessarily in Kazan. This year it will be organised by the Tatar centre of Izhevsk. In general, there are Tatar centres in 27 countries. There are about 150 active members in our ethnocultural association. They are regular participants of events, activists, youth. The coverage on Sabantui is about 600 people, although there are about 10 thousand Tatars in the capital, and 1100 Bashkirs. For information, in connection with the opening of Akbuzat Bashkir ethno-cultural association, the Bashkirs left our centre, but several people wanted to stay at TAN. Soon we will make changes in the charter, and most likely we will not teach the Bashkir language in a Sunday school. This is a commandment of the time. But we will also accept them. We have transferred all the national costumes to their center.
- Could you tell us about the directions of the center, the activities of the youth wing. What projects are the youth of the two countries implementing?
- By May 9 every year we held a charity lunch, organized concerts for veterans, aksakals. Now there are practically no more of them left. We carried food baskets to their homes. Now we've decided to hold this event on Senior Citizens Day. This year we also plan to organize a charity dinner for 70-80 people with a concert program, and for those who will not be able to attend - about 20-30 people, we will come to their home. We are similarly organising charitable aid for the elderly on Qurban ayt. There are no business projects. We don't have any big businessmen, entrepreneurs, like the German or Korean centers. We have a couple of people working in the medium business, so it is impossible to implement some projects proposed by Tatarstan due to lack of financial insolvency. Young people mostly work in the cultural part, in the information field and exchange experience. There are also those members of the association who permanently allocate some amount to the needs of the centre. On Sabantui everyone helps as much as they can. As they say, with peace by thread.
- What regions have most representatives of the Tatar ethnos?
- One of the most striking examples is the village of Bashkul in East Kazakhstan region. The only cultural centre there is the Tatar one. There are Russians, Kazakhs, Tatars, and all of them live in the village. The population is not big, but it is actively working. They have planted a park since its foundation, today it has become huge. Every year they plant trees before the celebration of Sabantui. The school has a separate office of the center. Thus, there are more Tatars living compactly in Karaganda, Almaty, 20 thousand people each, in Semey about 16 thousand people, and then in the capital. These cities have strong cultural centers, where many events are held, and Sunday schools have many students. The most cultural centre is in Semey. There, the Tatarstan Government has purchased premises for an art school, where students will be taught in various directions: playing the dombra, singing, dancing and so on.
- What is the distinctive feature of the capital's ethno-cultural center from others?
- Each region has its own peculiarities. We are a center of the capital, working as a republican one. At the moment there is an office in the House of Friendship, which we have arranged, we can show and tell about ourselves. For example, there are more creative people in Semipalatinsk, they train bayanists. Almaty also has a peculiar difference - the republican Tatar newspaper Fikir is published. In Uralsk there is the only Tatar Museum named after G. Tukay, where the history and evidence of how the first books, newspapers and magazines were published are fully preserved. Each region has its own distinctive sides. I'm 60 years old, I can't lead forever, I'm already starting to prepare a successor to continue the activity of the center. I change executive directors (deputies) every year, and I pay my salary every month. This year, my deputy Zemfira Nizamutdinova, next year, as soon as we hold a board meeting, we will elect another person. After a certain period of time, the distinguished person will manage the center. I try to participate less in many events so that they drive the teams themselves. The general management and direction of work of course I lead myself, because without funding there will be no movement. This is also a distinctive feature of our association. We try to work with the youth so that the elders are also involved.
- Vocal ensemble "Duslyk" received the title of national last year, does it impose any responsibility, what is planned?
- Of course it does. They have to perform a concert every year. We will rent a space, Zhastar Palace or the Palace of Schoolchildren and stage a free reporting concert for the audience. There will be not only the performance of the ensemble, but all the creative teams of the center will show what they are masters. On summer stages we perform, and already the quality of singing, performances gradually increases, the repertoire becomes various. After all, the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the RK held a competition for the title of national. It was necessary to act in three different ranges, the ensemble has executed technical norms. We sewed them three sets of costumes. One set for 18 people cost us a penny, the second set was sewed by the mayor’s office. The ensemble is trying even harder now, training harder. Choreographer Damir Sultanov, accordionist, choirmaster Asel Ergarina is also working at the center.
- How is international cooperation conducted?
- We are establishing cooperation in the Republican Centre. Chairman Taufik Akramovich Karimov has gone to Belarus, we have already established contacts. We are now communicating with the Moscow centre, we are working with another centre in Europe, with the Polish one - they have a Tatar ambassador. The days of Polish Tatars were held in Kazakhstan. The exchange of experience is mainly held at the World Congress of Tatars through our movement "Ak Kalfak". On this Sabantui we made skullcaps, women's hats, and sold them, that is, the movement began to work. For the first time we sold the attributes of Tatar art on Sabantui this year.
Three of this movement are invited to Kazan to visit, show the sights and tell about traditions. Each year they invite one person for training - how to conduct Sabantui. I have already had three people trained. I don't go there myself. All presidents go to the World Congress events, I go once and send deputies. Everyone's going there. Every year I send different people so they know what's going on when I resign as chairman of the center.
We also have TNV correspondent office, it is the merit of the Chairman of the Board of the Kazakhstan Congress of Tatars and Bashkirs Taufik Akramovich. He wrote several times, explained the necessity of the channel's corps for Kazakhstan and Central Asia, almost 80% of the time they are here. I think they have done a lot. Ethno-cultural centres, all ensembles and major events are covered by TV. Shootings are also an event. This pushes creative people to even more, because there is where to realize themselves and show. The correspondent office is an invaluable help in popularizing the Tatar movement in Kazakhstan.There were the days of Tatarstan cinema, and four films with Russian titles were brought in. We informed everywhere about the screenings, but the city is big, 100-150 people come. So it is not economically profitable. Nur-Sultan is the only city in Kazakhstan where we invite all the ensembles from Tatarstan, artists and others, but we cannot gather the audience.
- What is difficult in the public work of the Assembly?
- First of all, we need tolerance, and of course, we need to find contact with all people. I always say that it is necessary to start a conversation kindly and start with yourself, then the people around you will follow suit. There are some disagreements in every center, and we must reconcile them. And how? Only by conviction, preserving the position of neutrality, which objectively assesses from the human side to be a mediator. Everything has to be regulated so that there is tolerance towards each other. Several people receive their salaries from those working in the ethnocultural center, the rest of them help free of charge. When a person tries and does something, you can't judge him, you need to look for another direction, to suggest but in no case you cannot scold them.