Kazakhstan Marks Day of Abai Kunanbaiuly

ASTANA – Today marks the 178th anniversary of Abai Kunanbaiuly, a renowned Kazakh poet, composer, educator, philosopher, public figure, and the founder of Kazakh written literature and its first classic. The birthday of the great poet has been officially celebrated in Kazakhstan since 2020. 

Photo credit: zakon.kz.

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev congratulated Kazakh citizens on the Day of Abai on his X account (previously Twitter), saying that Abai made a vast contribution to the nation’s spiritual development, adding that his precepts serve as a moral guide for the new generation.

“The concept of ‘Adal azamat’ [honest citizen in Kazakh] is closely related to his concept of the perfect human being. Our duty is to honor Abai’s priceless legacy,” Tokayev wrote.

Life of Abai

Abai was born in the family of the Tobykty clan ruler Kunanbai Oskenbaiuly on Aug. 10, 1845, at the foot of the Shyngystau mountains in the former Semei Region, which was renamed in honor of Abai last summer.

Abai readings event brought together 131 schoolchildren and 27 hosts from 16 regions. Photo credit: Abai Region’s Administration.

The poet’s real name is Ibrahim, but the nickname Abai (translated from Kazakh as attentive, cautious), given by his grandmother Zere, stayed with him for his whole life.

Abai became a poet only by the age of 40. In his works, he wrote about the realities of life and what he saw around him. He witnessed progressive changes in Kazakh life through the opening of new schools, the promotion of sciences, enlightenment, and enhanced culture of people.

Abai wrote approximately 170 poems. His major philosophical piece, “Qara Sozder” (Words of Wisdom), remains a must-read book. He also translated 56 texts. His own works have been translated into 116 languages.

Nationwide celebration

Every year on Aug. 10 and preceding days, various events are held across the country.

A flower-laying ceremony at the monument to Abai in Semei. Photo credit: arnapress.kz.

One of them is the Abai readings, which brought together 131 schoolchildren and 27 hosts from 16 regions this year. Over three days, participants competed in the knowledge of Abai’s works in six nominations. The Ministry of Education awarded diplomas to 56 winners at the memorial complex to Abai and Shakarim. The latter was a disciple and nephew of the great poet.

Famed Kazakh singer Dimash Kudaibergen posted a video on his Instagram page, calling on all his fans to participate in the challenge he launched in honor of the great poet. He asked them to read any poem by Abai and post the video with the hashtag #AbayChallenge.

Dimash launches Abai Challenge. Photo credit: Instagram/Dimash Kudaibergen.

The celebrations in Astana began with a flower-laying ceremony at the monument to Abai. The capital also hosted several meetings of readers, including a literary and musical evening in the Zhastar Theater.

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