Zakiya Valitova, chairman of Sakhalin Tatar “Educational and Cultural Centre” Tugan Tel “(Mother tongue) has been awarded the medal of the World Congress of Tatars” For great services to the Tatar people.” Awarding was held in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, September 24, 2016 at the first Forum of Tatars of island region. The guest of honor was chairman of the World Congress of Tatars Rinat Zinnurovich Zakirov, who first came to Sakhalin. Later Zakiya admitted that she did not expect to hear her name in the list of the awarding.
Although led by her s “Tugan Tel” has been existing for more than 10 years, we decided to recall – what the stages had been passed making of the center. Therefore, the first question to the award – let us refresh in memory, how it all began?
– First, I want to say: a medal, handed to me, I think a sign of gratitude to all the Tatars, who live on Sakhalin and the Kuriles, remember their homeland, actively strengthen ties with compatriots, support national
traditions. Without such a unity a single person or group of people are likely little to do. In 2005, we held the first meeting of the Tatars. People expressed a desire to be closer to their culture, the traditions of their ancestors. So in 2006, we decided to register the first Tatar “Educational and Cultural Centre” Tugan Tel “. At the same time by a decision of the Tatar organizations that was supported by the World Congress of Tatars, in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, in Sakhalin, the first Sabantui took place. “Tugan Tel” has become the master of the feast. The main instigators of the international level of Sabantui were the Tatars of Uglegorsk district. In the opinion of many guests, it was all done on a very decent level. The center over the 10 years held plenty of events. But all has started well form the Tatar national holiday Sabantui.
– How many people are in your educational and cultural center now?
– Today there are over 400 members. By the way, not everyone knows, but the Tatar community on Sakhalin was quite large in post-war period. Mostly Tatars lived in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Okha, Nogliki, there were many miners, oil workers, fishermen, craftsmen. In Sovetskoe settlement of the Dolinsky district in 1947, for example,
the Tatars took land for burying countrymen. This is the only the Tatar cemetery in Sakhalin.
Until 1948, more than 800 families from the Republic of Tatarstan arrived in island. Just imagine – people did not know the Russian language, they had small children in their arms. The reason for the mass “exodus” – after the war requisitioning began, and people just fled from hunger. Most Tatars settled in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Okha, Nogliki where then just large industrial constructions have commenced. Since 1970, many left the island and went to the mainland, mostly to their historical homeland. But the backbone has been preserved. People thought to linger on the island for a year or two, but it turned out – to stay here for a lifetime.
– How you got to the island?
– I came to Sakhalin in 1982, to the village Udarny of the Uglegorsk district. I worked at the school. Among the Tatars, I was the youngest of those who knew the language, traditions, customs and traditional Islam. For the older generation of the Tatars, I was a finding. In the same year we started to hold Tatar holidays, majlis. The older generation treated me as a native daughter. People were happy after talking with me in their native language. So the younger generation of Tatars of the
Uglegorsk district reached out to me. I have been chosen, as they say, the senior for holding events.
In 2005 I moved to the capital of Sakhalin. I addressed the administration of the Sakhalin Region to Natalia Korshunova, she is now e deputy of the regional Duma. She explained how it is necessary to create a public organization. I started looking for compatriots in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. I wrote an appeal for assistance to the then President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev. After all, in Sakhalin at the time there was no movements on preservation and development of Tatar culture. From Kazan, the World Congress of Tatars immediately calls started. That’s how we have created the first in the history of Sakhalin Tatar public organization “Educational-Cultural Centre” Tugan Tel “. Around, interesting and sincere people appeared to be.
Youth of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk – Ravil Tretyakov, Elvira Valitova and Gulnara Min’kova helped to compile the organization’s charter. Our respected elders Rashid Mustafin, Rosa Vakhitova, Maryam Ishkinina, Khalida Habislamova, Zukhra Khabibullina helped then and now are helping to carry out activities, to preserve the language, keep the traditions and culture of the Sakhalin Tatars.
Over time, I felt that all the people of our organization are close to me in spirit. We have discovered that we want more and we can do, there was a responsibility to the younger generation, to whom we are obliged to pass what had been accumulated by our ancestors. And now I just can not imagine myself without this activity.
– You are also co-chairman of the regional national-cultural autonomy of Tatars of the Sakhalin oblast. You have enough time?
– You know, the appearance of autonomy is a logical consequence of the growth of national consciousness of compatriots living on the island. In the regions, local associations of Tatars got strengthened, people understand the need for coordination, it is necessary that there should be no discord. Therefore, in 2015, the constituent assembly of representatives of the Tatar autonomous districts took place. So, a regional autonomy has appeared, where representatives from each of the five districts of the oblast are present. This interaction allows to know how the Tatars live in the sticks. According to this the work of “Tugan Tel” must be implemented. Therefore, since 2007 the youth center “Yashlek” (Youth) has been working at our center. Youth have gathered a soccer team “Tatarstan” a vocal ensemble of the same name was organized. We want
young people already now to have realized their national identity.
In addition, a unified database of email addresses was created, free three-month courses in the Tatar language began to operate at our center. We are also proud that the Republic of Tatarstan has launched a project “Ana’s body” (mother tongue). The Tatars of our islands have actively switched to it. This project allows us to study the Tatar language for everyone.
– Zakiya, you yourself how feel: for you working in the center – a hobby or duty?
– It used to be a hobby – to direct educational and cultural center “Tugan Tel”. And now, when I retired, it became a real job. I have two growing grandchildren, but as I would not want to, they can not completely take my spare time. Such here, I am a busy public grandmother.
Most time I spend on social plan. In our center, a lot of older people, they need attention and care: to go to the store, take to the doctor, so just sit back and talk heart to heart. Many in their wills point to the need to be buried in compliance with national ceremonies. Therefore, I myself wash bodies of dead women. I admit, when first the elders assigned me this task, it was a bit scary. Then
I realized there is nothing terrible in this, it’s somebody’s grandmother, mother, sister, who came after the war to raise the Sakhalin’s economy. Now, it’s time to see off them according to the Tatar customs. After washing the deceased, we wrap the body in kafenion (shroud). Our imam reads zhenaza prayer, it is another mandatory ritual. And every time after performing this rite I feel happier, because I fulfilled the last testament …
– What are your plans for the future as in the co-chairman of the national-cultural autonomy?
– We want to create the Ak-kalfak organization (in translation from the Tatar “White Crown”) – it is the women’s movement, which aims to preserve and promote the traditions that exist in Tatar families.
I want to say about working with authorities. With the support of the regional administration of the Sakhalin oblast, administrations of the districts Tatar holidays Sabantui in Dolinsk, Nevelsk, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Kholmsk are held where every year come artists from the Republic of Tatarstan. This means our wonderful holiday will live and enjoy our Sakhalin.
Last year, August 7, 2015, the “Tugan Tel” and three heads of national cultural autonomies of Tatars Galima Galiullina (Uglegorsk district) Renat Shaydullin (Dolinsky
district), Svetlana Nurmukhambetova (Nevel district) appealed to the then still acting Sakhalin Oblast Governor Oleg Kozhemyako with the request. It concerned the extension of the intergovernmental agreement of the Sakhalin Oblast and the Republic of Tatarstan on cooperation and collaboration for the development of cultural and economic relations, as well as the strengthening of social values.
And September 24, 2016, the Sakhalin has been attended by President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov. Our wish has come true. Regions have agreed to strengthen ties in the oil and gas, forestry, energy and construction industries, as well as in agriculture, tourism, trade, entrepreneurship, transport sector. There is cooperation in health, science, culture, education, sports, youth policy, employment and labor relations, social protection of population, demographic development and family policy, environmental protection, sustainable use of natural resources and management. President of the Republic was very pleased that the Tatars are not only sing, they have Tatar Sunday school, a football team “Tatarstan”, which annually wins prizes at international football match in honor of National Unity Day, participate in all regional and city events.
For their great contribution to the preservation and development of language, the Tatar people’s culture and traditions all the heads of national cultural autonomies Tatars activists of Sakhalin, the ensemble “Duslyk” were awarded Letters of gratitude from Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan and the World Congress of Tatars.
Thank God, we are trying to do, write grants, aimed at the development of international cooperation, preservation and development of identity, culture, language and traditions. Much hope for bearers of the Tatar language, traditions and customs. And, of course, to the World Congress of Tatars Rinat Zinnurivich Zakirov, Tatarstan President Rustam Nurgalievich Minnikhanov, Sakhalin Oblast Governor Oleg Kozhemyako. Therefore, the mood is l optimistic. We’re going to open a park with a monument to the great Tatar poet Gabdulla Tukai, to hold the first Sabantui at the Far East Sakhalin. We expect students to visit to practice for learning the language and traditions of the Tatar people.
So, a lot of work. We will develop and maintain the culture of the Tatar people in the Sakhalin oblast, and of course, learning the officials to work – that they help social worker on the case.
– Zakiya, who had to have the biggest influence in your life?
– My wise, kind parents – Magsuma Shigapovna and Ziatdin Faskhutdinovich. They raised four daughters and three sons. Dad worked all his life at the mine in the Tula region, then moved to the village of Verkhny Karakityan of the Drozhzhanovsky district, Tatar ASSR. There’s mom and dad worked on the farm “Yulduz”. It was hard, but they never grumbled, discouraged, no one envied. My mother taught us to be strong, to hope for yourself and accustomed to the idea that a human creates his destiny, and my father always said, you are a human, go through the land, without fear of anyone. Be afraid only of Allah.
– And the last question. Your religion is Islam. How do you manage to keep the traditional Islam, living on the island for so many years?
– Islam – the religion of our ancestors, the religion of kindness. And as you know there is no future without the past, so we need in every corner of the Earth to keep the faith in a single God, first of all in your heart, and only then get attached to buildings and structures, or to specific people. In addition, I would like to thank the Governor of Sakhalin Oblast Oleg Kozhemyako for facilitating premises to Tatar center, Tatars Muslim
sector for burial and place for washing dead bodies. The older generation of Tatars for much time was waiting for the mosque, their spiritual home. And finally with support of the Governor, the city administration allocated a space of 350 square meters. Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Far East has helped it to restore. At the moment, any Sakhaliners and visitors of our island can apply to Mosque, Hazrat Imam Jamal, for performing religious needs.
Interview by Rashid Zufarov