For the first time in Abkhazia - the big “Abaza” festival, which has been held in the KChR for many years. In the summer of 2019, an entire Abkhaz delegation visited it. We publish the sketches of these July days, written by our colleague, journalist Ekaterina Bebia.

Ekaterina Bebia, specially for the WAC web info rportal

After the autumn “Abaza” festival in Abkhazia, I again recall our, yet, summer trip to Karachay-Cherkessia for the annual festival to the Abaza brothers. It lasted several days, which were unforgettable.

On the holidays!

Those who wish to travel from Abkhazia to the KChR on the Day of Culture of the Abaza People - a holiday that took place on July 21-23, 2019, got a whole bus. 47 people, including a group of ASU teachers, ten students, athletes, a young pop singer Saida Azizova and her leader, members of the Supreme Council of the World Abaza Congress. We all hit the road from Sukhum to Cherkessk. The Abkhaz delegation was led by the Executive Secretary of the Congress Inar Gitsba. The group headed by me from ASU, in addition to my students, included the teacher of ASU and the famous poetess of Abkhazia Gunda Sakania, editor of the newspaper “Abkhaz University” Alkhas Chkamaliya, teacher Akhra Ankvab.

Undoubtedly, the trip was very tiring ... But our fatigue vanished, as soon as we arrived in Cherkessk. A warm meeting with the Abaza brothers and the open smiles of the hosts gave us new strength. Moreover, ahead was a festival - the long-awaited, already traditional, vibrant holiday.

Day one: visiting the brothers

The first meeting of the Abkhaz delegation with our brothers took place at the entrance to the old Abaza village Elburgan. Abaza consider this settlement to be the cradle of their people. We were warmly welcomed in the center of the village, where the “Games of the Abaza people” were to be held that day. We, the older generation of journalists and students, in addition to observing sports, also found everywhere heroes of future essays from among Abaza. We were looking for people who became bright personalities in their society.

Day two: “journalistic”

The second day of our stay in the KChR was even more eventful. It was truly a “journalistic” day. In the morning, our group from ASU left for the editorial office of the “Abazashta” newspaper. The charming and hospitable editor of the newspaper Fardaus Kulova, who invited us, journalists, and our students to the editorial office, spoke delightfully and very warmly about her colleagues, introduced them to our delegation, showed us the binder of the newspaper “Abazashta”, shared the problems and successes of the team.

Then we were invited to the assembly hall of the Press House, where our presentation of the book “The Path of Wisdom and Courage” about the second President of Abkhazia, Hero of Abkhazia Sergey Vasilyevich Bagapsh was planned.

The auditorium was crowded. Here were mainly people who personally knew Sergey Vasilievich: writers, scientists, journalists, deputies, public figures, youth, my students. The eyes of the audience spoke to me; I understood their language and their faces were open and smiling. I caught every glance when they looked with such pride and, with a little sadness, on the cover of the book, on which is a large photograph of the wise, kind and proud son of the Caucasus and Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh.

The unique man Mussa Ekzekov

Then, it was very interesting for our students to talk with Mussa Ekzekov, whose name is today heard everywhere where Abaza and Abkhaz live.

For more than two hours we had the opportunity to talk with such a unique person who has boundless love and devotion to his people, who manages to charge everyone with inexhaustible energy: middle-aged people and young journalist students.

I’ll tell you about one more meeting of mine, which happened a little later: the next day at the holiday I met my classmate while studying at the Sukhum Pedagogical Institute, in the 70s of the last century, Abaza woman Falina Abidova.

So, since Falina is from Krasny Vostok, the native village of Mussa Ekzekov, when we met, I asked her a question: how does the local population evaluate the activities of Mussa Khabalevich? I asked her personal opinion about a well-known public figure and philanthropist.

And I heard a long answer: my friend for a long time was listing the merits of a man who did so much for his native village and for his native people.

Here is what she said: “We all, residents of Krasny Vostok, are happy and proud that the true patriot of his homeland, Mussa Ekzekov, comes from our village. He studied at the same school where I received secondary education. This is a man with a capital letter; he is a fan of his people, of the preservation of culture, language, literature, folklore. He raised the standard of living of our villagers to such an extent that it was impossible to dream of. At his expense, roads are being built in our village, the Alashara Sports Palace, a culture and leisure park, a working equipment park, a dumpling workshop, and a milk reception center were opened. A stud farm is under construction to revive horses of the Abaza breed. First-graders receive gifts from Mussa annually. Not only does he help his native village, his attention is enough for all Abaza villages. Our dear Mussa Ekzekov sincerely loves his people, cares about us, about our children; he is with us in spirit. He glorified our people throughout the world. I have not yet seen or heard that anyone so sincerely and passionately loved their proud, long-suffering people and took real steps to revive it. We pray for him, may God grant him good health, long life for the benefit of our little people ...”

The meeting with Falina left a lasting impression in my heart, returned us to our happy youthful years.

About people at work and in life

I want to tell you a little about the people with whom I had a chance to communicate and work closely these days.

For example, with pride - about the young journalist Kamilla Kirval from AGTRK, who at my request was included in the Abkhaz delegation. All three days of our stay in the KChR, she worked tirelessly. She worked on what was filmed during the day with the operator, in the evening at the hotel, when everyone else was relaxing: she edited, wrote texts, generated video clips and sent them to the AGTRK for broadcasting. Upon arrival in Sukhum from the same videos, Kamilla prepared several advanced reports. All of them became informative, rich and colorful.

I was very comfortable with our talented poetess Gunda Sakania. As always. More than once we traveled with her to St. Petersburg, Moscow, and to many foreign countries. Trips were mainly related to our work. And this time, I wanted Gunda Sakania to speak at the presentation of the book “The Path of Wisdom and Courage”. The speech of Gunda Sakania at the presentation of the book about Sergey Bagapsh exceeded my expectations. My worries went away after her speech, and I said to myself: “The presentation was a success!”

Among the members of our delegation from the university, we should single out Alkhas Chkhamaliya for his ability to work. All these three days we were involved from morning to evening in all the events of the cultural and sports festival. We were returning to the hotel late at night. However, despite the fatigue, Alkhas set about preparing materials for publications on social networks. A full report on the work done for each day is his selection of photographs, video reports, audio recordings and texts.

Our cameraman and photographer during the trip was my student David Ankvab, who gladly agreed to my offer to work in that capacity. David proved himself to be a seeking, talented, hardworking cameraman and a very resourceful photographer. The photographs I selected for this essay are mainly made by him.

Alkhas Psardia. A young but very promising young man and, moreover, brought up in the traditional Abkhaz spirit. He was there where help was needed, showed attention to all those around him and asked at each of our meetings if something else was needed. He was among the first when someone needed some kind of support.

Another student, Ainar Chitanaa, also with us a correspondent for the “Sputnik Abkhazia” agency. Ainar published several materials about the days of culture in the KChR, made a separate essay on the life and work of Mussa Ekzekov. His publications have earned great attention and received many good reviews.

Day three: our Abkhaz flag

The final day of the festival was dedicated to the Day of the Abkhaz state flag and culture of the people of Abaza. It was held in the center of Cherkessk, in one of the largest parks in southern Russia, “Green Island”. The holiday was decorated with our Abkhaz flag. Numerous guests took part in it - representatives of Abkhaz and Abaza from Turkey, Moscow, Abkhazia, the Stavropol Region, of course, from Karachay-Cherkessia.

The third day and the whole holiday of culture of the Abaza people in Cherkessk ended with a traditional firework. Thousands of people did not want to disperse, and when they finally dispersed, everyone still had the hope of meeting on the Day of Culture of the Abaza people next year.

In the early morning after this wonderful evening, our delegation, inspired by everything they saw and heard, went back home to Abkhazia. This happy three-day stay with the Abaza brothers will remain in our memory for a long time.