Kazakhstan celebrates Saken Seifullin’s 125th birthday 

NUR-SULTAN – Cities across Kazakhstan celebrated the 125th birthday Oct. 15 of poet, enlightener and politician Saken Seifullin.

Photo credit: komsomolskaya.kz.

Karaganda, Kokshetau and the capital hosted the biggest events. The three cities held conferences, aityses (traditional improvisational composing contests) and concerts to commemorate his life and work. His descendants attended festivities dedicated to their well-known ancestor.

“This year, we are celebrating the 125th anniversary of three titans of Kazakh literature – Saken Seifullin, Beimbet Mailin and Iliyas Zhansugirov. Their works have always been popular because they reflected the Kazakh identity, the love of the motherland, the respect for traditions, the native language, the spirit of patriotism, the life of our ancestors, the hardships of their lives, revolutions, revolts and other historical events,” said Aigul Sabitova, head of the Kokshetau Culture and Language Development Department.

One of the events was a conference of Seifullin scholars at Ualikhanov Kokshetau State University, where Akmola Region Akim (Governor) Yermek Marzhikpayev announced that a Tursinbek Kakishev Centre will open on the premises of the university. Kakishev, a PhD in philology, is the author of 16 books on Seifullin, making his biography one of the most researched of Kazakh writers and placing him on par with Abai Kunanbayev. 

Seifullin, who spent his youth in Kokshetau, wrote more than 20 poems about the city. As a result, many people think that he was born there, although he was born in Karaganda, 500 kilometres to the south, according to poet and Saken Seifullin Museum Director Nesipbek Aituly.

Zhanaarka, Seifullin’s birthplace in the Karaganda Region, celebrated the anniversary by setting a Guinness World Record. A thousand people simultaneously whipped 10,000 litres of kumys (fermented mare’s milk) in 1,000 special tanks. The record was achieved with the number of tanks, amount of milk and number of people in attendance.

Seifullin was a pioneer of modern Kazakh literature. He was the founder of the Kazakh Writers Union, first chair of the Kazakh Soviet Socialistic Republic People’s Commissars Council, one of the heads of the Kazakh youth cultural and educational society and president of the Kyzylorda People Enlightenment Institute.

Seifullin was also a supporter of the Russian Revolution and advocate for Kazakh independence from Russia. During Stalin’s Great Terror he was termed an “enemy of the people,” nationalist and threat and, along with many other representatives of the Kazakh intelligentsia, he was executed in 1938.