At the start of the year, an article entitled “Abai and Kazakhstan in the XXI century”, penned by the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, was published in the “Egemen Kazakhstan” newspaper. The article stated that both Kazakhstan and UNESCO have made plans to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Kazakh poet, writer, and philosopher Abai. It was warmly received by the society.
In 1995, the 150th anniversary of the great Abai was celebrated on a global scale. This event was important for the newly independent Kazakhstan because it created a sense of national unity and spirit. In the twenty-five years that have since passed, Kazakhstan became known by many states across the globe, the Republic has gone through numerous political, economic, religious transformations; it has become famous for hosting numerous conferences and forums.
On April 12, 2017, a programmatic article written by the First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev – “Course towards the future: modernization of Kazakhstan’s identity” was published. This article was breath of the fresh air because it laid out a plan for the country on how to not only maintain, but also strengthen its national identity in a rapidly transforming world. This plan shows how modernization does not mean that a nation must lose touch with its identity and cultural heritage. The ideas of the First President and the goals that he set were clear. It was time to take up the initiative and work on it, using all existing resources.
In June of that same year, the ‘Rukhani Zhangyru’ Cultural Center was opened at Nazarbayev University. Currently, there are more than 6,000 young people, including 70 international students, studying at Nazarbayev University. All of them are taught by the best lecturers and professors, coming from more than 50 countries of the globe. One of the core values of the university is honesty. In other words, students are admitted based on merit, and earn achievements based on their own hard work and study. All the graduates are well-educated, highly qualified specialists, bright and creative people, who are capable of overcoming any difficulties; they are proactive leaders, – multilingual, multicultural, able to freely communicate with people of different backgrounds and cultures; they are citizens, who are ready to contribute to the development of their countries. The ‘Rukhani Zhangyru’ Cultural Center strives to ensure that Nazarbayev University students comply with the “eight NU graduate attributes” through cultural activities.
As a part of the celebration of the 175th anniversary of Abai, plenty of work was done by the Center. First, the center erected an octagonal white yurt – ‘The Abai House’, decorated with Kazakh national ornaments. The space of the second floor of the main building became a gallery and was named “The World of Abai”. Here guests can see Abai’s books and antiquities that belong to his era. A screen was installed that displays Abai’s verses and words of wisdom. Visitors are now able to see photographs featuring the everyday life and culture of Abai, his contemporaries, family members and disciples. Both students and readers can have free access to works on Abai studies. Inside the yurt, students perform plays and recite Abai’s “Words of Wisdom”.
In addition, the University has taken up the torch of reading Abai’s poems, initiated by the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. In the contest “Abai oqulary”, students competed by performing the poet’s poems and songs. The Center also organized an essay competition “Abai zhaqkan sana saulesi sonbey ushin” for 10th and 11th graders from schools in Nur-Sultan. The competition’s organizers not only awarded certificates and valuable prizes to the winners but also recognized the hard work of the winning students’ supervisors and coaches. The talented students of the “Kazakh stage” club performed a theatrical play for the NU community.
On October 7-8, 2020, Nazarbayev University will host an online international forum dedicated to the 175th anniversary of Abai, entitled “Abai and Humanism”.
Nazarbayev University organizes events dedicated to the works of Abai on an annual basis. Moreover, there is “The World of Abai” course available to NU students, the Center organizes readings of Abai poems; contests, dedicated to the study of the poet’s works in a new context are organized, and translations of his poems into other languages are made.
As President K. Tokayev said: “We must love our people just like Abai. Although the great poet criticized the shortcomings of his compatriots, he set himself a single goal – to lead the people to prosperity and high achievements”.
The goals of NU students and alumni are aligned with the goals of the great Abai.
Gultas Kurmanbay, Director of the Cultural Center Rukhani Zhangyru
Gulnaz Kalambayeva, Senior Manager of the Cultural Center Rukhani Zhangyru