The Abaza cultural and sports festival came to its end in Karachay-Cherkessia. It included the Forum of Indigenous Peoples of Russia, the Games of the Abaza People, the Day of Culture of the Abaza People and the Day of the State Flag of Abkhazia. The festival was organized by the international association for promotion of development of the Abaza-Abkhaz ethnic group "Alashara".

Alisa Khutaba

The Forum of Indigenous Minorities of Russia is a platform for exchange of expert opinions and ideas that relate to global issues of development of minority ethnic groups and indigenous peoples. The event was initiated by the President of ANO "Alashara", Chairman of the Supreme Council of the WAC Mussa Ekzekov. The organization was carried out by "Alashara" and the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences with the support of the head and government of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic.

The first day of the forum was held at the State Philharmonic of Cherkessk. The event began with a theatrical performance that immersed those present in the history of the Abaza people. The official part was opened by the Deputy Chairman of the Government of the KChR Murat Suyunchev. He thanked everyone who took part in organizing the forum, noting the high level of preparation. Murat Suyunchev read out a welcome address on behalf of the head of KChR, Rashid Temrezov.

"I warmly welcome our distinguished guests from the Federation Council and the State Duma, from different regions of Russia, neighboring Abkhazia and from Italy. Your presence here symbolizes the spirit of interaction and cooperation that this forum seeks. Your knowledge and experience will undoubtedly enrich our discussions and contribute to the successful achievement of common goals. We are all unique in our cultures, languages ​​and beliefs, but we are united in our shared commitment to justice, inclusion and a successful future. Together we will be able to overcome the challenges we face, because it is unity that will make us stronger," the address says.

The Chairman of the Supreme Council of the WAC and the President of the association "Alashara" Mussa Ekzekov, in turn, thanked the head of the government of the KChR for his help in organizing the event, emphasizing that the forum is a significant milestone on the path to preserving and developing rich languages, traditions and cultures.

"The mission of our "Alashara" team has always been determined by an unshakable belief in the power of language, the importance of traditions and the value of cultural heritage. We understand that when a language is lost, the whole world is lost. When traditions disappear, the connection with the ancestors weakens. The neglect of culture leads to a weakening of our essence. It is this awareness that gives strength to move forward, leads through the hardest obstacles and inspires us to build a brighter future," Ekzekov stressed.

Director of the Kunstkamera, Doctor of Historical Sciences Andrey Golovnev noted the importance of developing ethnic self-awareness.

"We are obliged, thinking and reasoning in all-Russian way, first of all, to pay attention to what is called ethnicity, ethno-cultural projects, ethnic self-consciousness. That is why this event, like a number of others, is of great importance for the main thing - for the idea of ​​​​national, for that very property, and if you like, the competitive advantage of Russia ... I am very grateful to the Abaza for seriously introducing me to Caucasus. That is, for me, the Caucasus, first of all, is the country of Abaza," Andrey Golovnev addressed the audience.

Senator Rimma Galushina, member of the Federation Council Committee on Science, Education and Culture, Ildar Gilmutdinov, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Nationalities Affairs, State Duma Deputy, member of the Committee on Nationalities Affairs Anastasia Udaltsova, Chief Analyst of the SpecialEurasia Italian edition Giuliano Bifolky and its director Sylvia Boltuk.

Participants and guests of the forum were premiered a film about the ten-year activity of the "Alashara" team in Karachay-Cherkessia. The organization practices the model of preservation and development of the ethnos from the very roots. Over the years, the method has proved to be effective. It was even given its own name - "Ekzekov's method."

Games of the people of Abaza

After the solemn opening of the Forum, the guests moved to the village of Psyzh, where the traditional Games of the Abaza people were held from the very early morning. Ten teams took part in them, representing the Abaza villages of the KChR, Cherkessk and the Republic of Abkhazia. The current sports festival has become the most massive in history, about eight thousand people were present at the competitions. The hosts of last year's tournament, representatives of the village of Kubin, solemnly handed over the main prize - the challenge cup - to the Psyzh residents.

"We are all not just participants, but, in fact, torchbearers of our vibrant culture. These games symbolize not only physical prowess and sporting achievements. They personify our brotherhood and the triumph of the human spirit. Together we are united not only as Abkhazians and Abaza, but also as evidence of the strength, diversity and beauty contained in our collective power," Mussa Ekzekov said opening the competition.

The struggle unfolded on several sports grounds. Among the main team competitions are mini-football, volleyball, 100 meters running, long jump, triathlon. The organizers also provided for alternative competitions in which anyone could take part: checkers, chess etc.

Inzhich-Chukun team won the first place and the Cup of the Games of the people of Abaza. The second was the village of Kubina and Elburgan took the third place. The Abkhazian team won the volleyball competition for the fourth time. The baton for holding the sports festival was handed over to the village of Apsua. After the awards ceremony, a concert was held with the participation of the stars of Abazashta. 

Forum continuation

The second day of the forum was devoted directly to the agenda.

"It is necessary to seriously emphasise the crucial issues. Deep immersion in culture makes every person absolutely clear and transparent," said Mussa Ekzekov.

Forum moderator Andrey Golovnev noted the special importance of holding an event where peoples speak about themselves in their own language. Senator Rimma Galushina made a presentation. She described in detail the work being done to create comfortable conditions for the preservation and development of the native languages ​​of small peoples, and also spoke about the methods of motivating children to learn their native language.

Further, the forum participants moved on to the practical part, divided into three sections: linguistic heritage, the practice of preserving and developing an ethnic group, and supporting culture.

A delegation from Abkhazia also took part in the work of the section on the preservation and development of the language on the rights of the fraternal people of the Abaza. It was represented by a member of the Supreme Council of the WAC, Chairman of the State Committee of the Republic of Abkhazia for Repatriation Vadim Kharazia, head of the Coordinating Council of Women under the WAC Ekaterina Bebia, senior lecturer at the department of Abkhaz literature, head of the Center for Abkhaz-Adyg Philology at ASU Akhra Ankvab, head of the regional office in Moscow Daur Bargandzhia and the full composition of the Sukhum branch of the WAC.

The participants exchanged experiences, discussed strategic objectives and methods that can help develop a common strategy for the development and preservation of ethnic foundations. They listened to a number of reports on the issues of language preservation, shared relevant developments on the example of the small peoples of Russia, exchanged proposals, taking into account the experience of other peoples.

The participants were read congratulatory letters from the speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia Lasha Ashuba, the head of the ASU, Professor Aleko Gvaramia, the Chairman of the Repatriation Committee of the Republic of Abkhazia Vadim Kharazia, and also on behalf of the Council of Elders of the Abaza people.

Day of culture of the people of Abaza

The evening program of events has moved to one of the biggest parks in the south of Russia - the Green Island. There, the guests and participants of the forum celebrated the Day of Culture of the Abaza people and the Day of the Abkhazian flag. In its current form, the holiday was approved in 2014, modernizing the large-scale celebrations in Sukhum that have been held since 2005 on the occasion of the Day of the State Flag of Abkhazia.

The celebration was traditionally held with songs, dances, treats, as well as a fair of craftsmen. Exhibitions of fine and decorative arts were organized for the participants and guests of the festival, and they were given the opportunity to taste national dishes. In the evening, a concert was held with the participation of singers, musicians and dance ensembles, and at the end of the holiday, the sky was lit up with festive fireworks.

The final day included a cultural and entertainment program with visits to temples, the Arkhyz resort and sanatorium complex, cable car rides, a festive dinner and talks about a productive "working" weekend.