“If you do not speak Tatar, our children will never be able to learn it”
To preserve their native language, the community of the Tatars of Australia maintains a Sunday school and conducts all sorts of national holidays.
Zukhra Sadri, along with her husband, an Englishman and a small daughter, like thousands of other football fans, flew to Kazan for the World Cup. Zuhra is a native of Australia, who speaks only Tatar and English. And singles out her that she is one of the few who managed to preserve the Tatar roots on the other side of the world.
“Zukhra, tell us a little about yourself.”
– My grandmother was born in Kazan, but in early childhood she moved to live in China. From there my parents left for Australia, and already in Adelaide (the administrative center and the largest city of South Australia, the fifth largest city in the country with a population of 1,225,265 people in 2011. – Ed.) I was born and to this day I live in it. Three years ago I got married. Now we are raising a daughter.
– How have you managed to preserve the knowledge of the Tatar language and Tatar culture, living far away from Russia, Tatarstan?
– Since early childhood, every week I attended the Sunday school of the Tatar. I’m not sure that two hours of language training was enough to master it, but these sessions served as a good basis for my current knowledge. We managed to preserve our native language also thanks to the fact that my whole family, and this is my grandmother, parents, sisters and brothers, communicate only in Tatar. Even before the birth of my daughter, I began to dream of teaching her to speak and write Tatar, but I realized that first I need to work hard on myself. I began to read many Tatar books and translate English texts for children. Even the simplest proposals came off for me with difficulty, but I did not give up. Over time, I began to get better. My language is still not perfect, but I speak every day, I read and write on it.
– Who else in Australia can you speak Tatar except the family?
“We have our own Tatar public organization in Adelaide, it has about 350 people registered. There we communicate only in Tatar. Previously, often forgetfulness switched to English, but now, especially with children, try to speak only in their native language. We realized that if we do not do this, our children will never be able to learn it.
– What does your organization do?
– Every year we hold Tatar cultural events, such as Sabantuy, Tukayev readings, Uraza-bairam and much more. We also have a female ensemble of Tatar folk songs. We teach and sing the songs of our grandmothers.
– As a rule, in Tatarstan, all Tatars consider themselves Muslims. Is this still in place in Australia?
– Yes. It seems to me that almost all the Tatars of our organization are Muslims. In our city for believers there are several large mosques.
– What is the manifestation of the Tatar culture in your life?
– We often prepare national Tatar dishes. As a child, I thought, why do we prepare so much for all this, and when I began to lead an independent life, I quickly missed this kitchen and began cooking myself. My husband really likes our echpochmak.
– What happens when the Tatar and English culture unite?
Happy life. I was lucky with my husband. He is always interested in our traditions and customs. Supports me in terms of preserving and developing the Tatar language. He is happy to participate in all the Tatar holidays. And I even chose a name for our daughter, he approved. Our daughter’s name is Zilia, which is a Tatar name.
– How do you bring up Zilia?
“I want her to know about her Tatar roots.” When she grows up, then, like I did, I will go to the Sunday school of the Tatar language. I try to speak to her only in my native language. Together with her husband had already learned a few words. Upon my arrival in Kazan, I bought about 20 kilograms of books for my daughter for several years to come, because in Australia it is extremely difficult to find children’s Tatar literature.
– Do they know anything about Kazan in Australia?
– To be honest, I do not think so. Perhaps, there are those who are aware. These became even more during the World Cup, at least from viewing those games that took place here in Kazan. But in Australia they know Zulya Kamalova (the Tatar and Australian singer – Ed.). Many, by the way, know her as a Tartar.
– Do you often come to Kazan and can you call this city the capital of all Tatars?
– We are here for the sixth time. I hope we’ll come again. When you are sitting in such national restaurants, you go to see performances in the Tatar language at the Galiaskar Kamal Theater and so on, of course, Kazan can be called such one. But, on the other hand, I think that it is not enough to know only the Tatar. I realized this during my first visit to the distant 2003. Then I was here with my parents. Of the three of us, only Dad was Russian. His knowledge helped us a lot.
– Is there a difference between the Tatars of Kazan and Adelaide?
– In Adelaide, English words are often heard in Tatar speech, and in Kazan – Russian. This is the first and so far the last, in which I noticed a big difference. In general, we are all so similar.