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Zhambyl Zhabaev (1846-1945)

Dzhambul Dzhabaev (Feb 1846- 22 Jun 1945), traditional folksinger [Kazakh "akyn"], was born in Semirech'e. Student of "akyn" Sayumbai. Expert in Kazakh music. Knew vast numbers of melodies by heart. Sang to accompaniment of "domra" (a plucked string instrument) at "aktys"es (Kazakh contests for "akyn"s). Stalin prize 1941. Died in Alma-Ata. Much was written in the 1930s about his primitive-style hymns to Stalin.

Many of Dzhambul's odes were printed in "Pravda" in the late 1930s. He is shown here (in fur cap) being awarded the Order of the Red Banner for Labor by M.I. Kalinin ["Ogonyok," 1936, Issue #32, p. 12]. His "labor" was indeed of heroic, even Stakhanovite proportions, as he cranked out page after page of the most obsequious flattery. In 1938, he received an Order of Lenin ("Pravda," 3 Dec 1938), in return for which he offered one more flattering effusion (reprinted below in English and Russian) to "my Stalin the Great, father and teacher!"

Report in newspaper «Pravda»

Dzhambyl in Moskow

A visit to the Kremlin, a meeting with Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin, receipt of the Order of Lenin moved Dzhambul.
The 93-year-old folk singer experienced great joy. Dzhambul's "dombra" [stringed instrument] did not fall silent
the whole day. The "akyn" [Kazakh folk singer] sang and played.

[My] "heart bursts from [my] breast," said Dzhambul. "I wish to hug my dear Moscow, I wish untiringly
to compose songs about the Soviet people."

The whole day [long], delegations of Moscow schoolchildren, scientists, writers, and representatives
of Kazakhstan organizations came with greetings to Dzhambul at the hotel.

Today Dzhambul will see the L.M. Kaganovich Metro and make a tour of Moscow by automobile. (TASS).

Supposedly the real Dzhambul, invited for the first time to Moscow, died at age 70 of a heart attack while boarding a bus. Supposedly translations of his work in the mid to late 1930s were in fact original compositions in Russian, as suggested by their perfect rhyme and meter. No original Kazakh texts ever turned up for them. The name of the translator for some of them, "Altaisky," suggests a pseudonym, named for a prominent mountain range in Dzhambul's native eastern Kazakhstan.

It sounds like outrageous slander to us, a provocation by cosmopolite hacks made jealous by Dzhambul's unique ability to speak for the fraternal peoples of the new socialist commonwealth. But the competent organs should look into what may be an oblique confession of murder against the Gor'kij of the Steppe.

Copyright © 2002 Nursat