The Congress opened Abkhaz language courses in St. Petersburg.

Said Bargandzhia  

The Abkhaz language courses, organized by the World Abaza Congress, are launched in St. Petersburg. The first lesson was attended by 11 people aged 18 to 30.

The Chairman of the Council of the regional branch of the WAC in St. Petersburg Temur Rekvava said that the teaching of the Abkhaz language in the northern capital of the Russian Federation was planned starting in 2018.

“In places where councils of local and regional branches are opened, and especially outside Abkhazia, the Congress is facilitating the opening of courses on the study of national dances and the native language. Full or partial financing of all courses is carried out by the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the WAC Mussa Ekzekov,” explained Rekvava.

According to him, the main difficulty in organizing language courses was the lack of a relevant teacher.

“Finally, we found a teacher. Courses in the Abkhaz language will be taught by our compatriot Aida Vekua.  These lessons are basic for people who are starting to learn the language from scratch.  Everyone liked the first lesson,” said the chairman of the Council.

Course teacher Aida Vekua, in turn, spoke about the methodology chosen for the classes.

“After analyzing the literature that we managed to find, we took the book of Kvarcheliya “Abkhaz language in 20 lessons” as a basis.  This textbook together with tests, additional audio and video materials, is well suited for those who begin to study the Abkhaz language and want to get an entry-level result: learning reading rules, developing proper pronunciation skills, and developing speaking skills. I want to teach [students] the practical knowledge of the Abkhaz language, develop their speaking skills, introduce them to the basic grammar of the Abkhaz language,” said Vekua.

Courses will be held once a week.

In addition to the language topic, Temur Rekvava also talked about the fact that the local “Abaza” national dance ensemble, created by the WAC in 2019, continues to work actively in St. Petersburg (in accordance with the Charter of the WAC, the Congress sets the goal of preserving the national identity, traditions and customs  Abkhaz-Abaza (Abaza) and Ubykh peoples, therefore, the development of national dances is a priority for the Congress along with projects to preserve the language - ed.).  According to Rekvava, the team takes part in various cultural events and always shows good results.

Ismet Tarba, the artistic director of the ensemble, noted that the participants of “Abaza” actively attend classes.  According to Tarba, the ensemble is multinational and unites representatives of more than 10 nationalities.  30 people are involved in it, classes are held on Sundays.

One of the team members, Maria Shakaya, in a commentary for the WAC web info portal recalled how, even at the stage of the idea of ​​creating the ensemble, they, along with friends, were “overwhelmed with the desire to realize it.”

“Since then we have already taken part in many contests and various festivals, we always tried to show ourselves from the best side.  I am very glad that we have such an opportunity - to get together every Sunday and dance national Abkhaz and Abaza dances,” said Shakaya.

Learning to dance in the tradition of the Abkhaz and Abaza was a lifelong dream of her ensemble colleague Marina Dzhonua, who had recently joined the “Abaza”.

“I always wanted to learn how to dance national dances beautifully. I’ve been searching online for a long time for a team that could teach me this and, finally, I came across the Vkontakte account (a popular Russian social network - ed.) of the Abaza ensemble.  I was happy,” the girl shared.

For a student from Abkhazia, Arsou Huapshykhu, “Abaza” is “a good opportunity to be closer to the homeland.”

“And we also have the opportunity to share our culture, our customs here with people in St. Petersburg through the dance,” the ensemble member said.

The regional branch of the WAC of St. Petersburg was opened in November 2018. Meetings of representatives of the Abaza people, theme nights and exhibitions dedicated to the culture of the Abkhaz-Abaza people are regularly held in St. Petersburg with the assistance of the Congress. Representatives of the WAC visit memorial sites associated with Abkhaz and Abaza, in particular, memorials at the Piskarevsky cemetery. The Chairman of the Supreme Council of the WAC Mussa Ekzekov is a permanent resident of St. Petersburg.