Cultural Diplomacy at the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan

7 December, 2020

On Friday, 4 December 2020, IPSS had an invitation to visit the Kazakhstan Embassy. The aim of this invitation was to introduce Kazakhstan and its culture to the international communities.

On behalf of IPSS, twelve people attended the event. H.E. Mr. Barlybay Sadykov Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan welcomed us at the entrance and took us to the cultural center after the name of Abai. Mr. Sadykov introduced us to Abay Kunanbayev, the great poet and thinker of the Kazakh people. Abay is a philosopher – humanist, composer, and exquisite master of the artistic word. He contributed to the dissemination of the Russian and European culture among Kazakhs. He translated works of Krylov, Lermontov, Pushkin, Goethe, and Byron. This year marks the 175th anniversary of the birth of Abay Kunanbayev.

Then we saw traditional Kazakh’s clothing’s. Kazakh cultural heritage is reflected in its national dress. Kazakh national clothing is an integral part of wider Kazakh culture. In former times, a Kazakh’s clothing indicated their status, wealth, and approximate age. Kazakh national clothes have a significant history. They reflect the national experience. Throughout the centuries, Kazakh national clothes were distinguished by simplicity and rationality. Costumes were decorated with jewelry, embroidery, and ornaments. For example, a female’s wear Camisole, and a men’s wear Shapan.

Following the cultural cloth, we had an opportunity to see an archetype of the round-shaped, sophisticated Kazakh Yurt (house) constructed with a dome, and the most widely used Kazakh folk instrument, Dombra.

After we finished our short but exciting tour, Mr. Sadykov gave a speech about the purpose of this cultural diplomacy, what unity and harmony mean for the Kazakh people, and how the Kazakh tribes united and defeated invaders from the east.

Thereafter, we sat down and began watching a record-breaking hit film about a teenage freedom fighter and a mythic warrior hero from the early 18th century who stood as many others for the liberation of his entire nation. It’s a story we can all relate to: a boy sees his entire tribe slaughtered by enemy warriors, goes into hiding with survivors, and becomes the greatest freedom fighter his country’s ever seen. The title of the movie is “Myn bala” which is directly translated as “The thousand boys”, young guerrilla fighters who fought back against occupation by the Dzungars, merciless tribes from the east. The definitive victory against these invaders came at the battle of Anyrakay, in 1729, a landmark date in the Kazakh fight for independence.

Warriors of the Steppe (Myn Bala) is the story of the oppression of the native Kazakh people by the Dzungars (a Mongol tribe descended from Genghis Khan) in the early 18th century and how a young boy grew into a powerful yet compassionate leader.

Within the first few minutes, The warrior’s motivation becomes crystal clear when as a boy his village is burned to the ground and his parents are killed in front of him. Escaping into the forest with a small group of survivors. Later, the boy grew up into a strapping young man skilled in archery, riding, and swordplay. Over the course of various skirmishes, arguments, and deals with neighboring tribes, the warrior builds an army strong enough to stand against their tyrannical oppressors.

The production and costume design was authentic. The cinematography does capture the breath-taking of Kazakhstan’s countryside, landscape and mountain-view rather beautifully.

The film was very interesting and moving. Dr. Yonas, Director of IPSS, expressed how he felt after the ending. Over dinner, everyone was socializing and having a great time. Exciting and fascinating insights have been raised in terms of IPSS collaborating with the Kazakhstan government and universities in Kazakhstan to nurture peace and security through research, dialogue, and other outreach activities in Ethiopia as well as Africa.