The writer who gave the Kazakhs their historical name

27.07.2017 3828

Saken Seifulin

Saken (Sadvakas) Seifulin – is one of the first Kazakh writers, who were granted the Red flag labor award for his contribution in Kazakh literature.Seifulin was born into a peasant family on 15th of October, in Karaganda region.

His parents (mother Zhamal and father Seifulla) were creative people with musical talents. At age six Saken was taught the Arab language and grammar by the local mullah.He was accepted in Nildin Russian-Kazakh School in 1905. From 1908, he studied at the parish school and Akmolinsk College, where he started to write poems. Concurrently Saken worked as a teacher.After graduating from college in 1913, Seifullin got into Omsk teaching seminary and became an active member of the “Birlik” youth movement. This group’s followers promoted a nation’s cultural heritage. In 1914, the writer’s first poems “Past Days” were published.Seifullin returned to his homeland in 1916 and started teaching grammar to Kazakh kids. He became a chairman of the Akmolinsk Kazakh committee. The writer participated in the creation of the “Bakyt Zholyna” – a youth organization, which engaged in cultural and educational issues in Kazakhstan. He formed the “Zhas Kazakh” movement and a first Kazakh newspaper “Tirshilik” as well.Saken was arrested by White Guards in 1918. He spent seven months in prison, from where he was sent to Petropavlovsk and Omsk. Seifullin spent 48 days in the “Death carriage” of general-major Boris Annenkov. He escaped from a concentration camp to Bayan aul, and then to Aulie-ata (Taraz today). This period of the writer’s life was portrayed in his novel “The Thorny Path”.Saken came back to Akmoilnsk in 1920, after the soviet authority was finally established in the city. He engaged in public works, taught in few big universities, edited the “Kyzyl Kazakhstan” magazine and the “Enbekshil kazakh” newspaper.Seifullin was a first person in history to raise a question of bringing back an ancient name of the nation and renaming it from “Kirgiz” to “Kazakh”. He wrote a whole article concerning this problem called “Let’s call Kazakh a Kazakh, let’s correct mistakes”. It was published on 15th of February 1923 in the “Enbekshi kazakh” newspaper.The writer also supported a Kazakh language introduction into the country’s office work. From 1925, the Kazakhs started to be called Kazakhs, but at this moment Seifullin was accused of nationalism. The government had him shadowed.Saken met his future wife Gulbahram Batyrbekova in 1925, in Petropavlovsk. Their daughter Laura was born in 1932, but, unfortunately, died in a year. In a few years, the couple had a son Ayan. The writer was given the Red flag labor award in 1936.In 1937, he got arrested for espionage and relations with the Japanese counter-revolutionaries. His wife Gulbahram with the baby on her hands was sent from Almaty to Akmolinsk. The son Ayan died along the way.Saken Seifullin was shot on 28th of February at 1938 in Almaty. He was rehabilitated posthumously in 1958.Today his name is immortalized in streets, schools and theatres all over the country. Saken Seifullin memorial museum opened in Astana in 1985, a monument - in 1994. Many Kazakh writers dedicated their work to him – Sabit Mukanov’s play “Saken”, Gabit Musrepov’s novel “Once and forever”…Interesting facts:Gulbahram tried to hide her son’s death until the arrival to Kosheatau because she was scared that the body will be thrown away from the carriage. She was nursing and “feeding” the dead baby, trying to behave naturally. In Koshetau the child was buried by the relatives.