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A fascinating paradox in the Kazakhstani leader’s biography

The TV and radio complex of Kazakhstan’s presidency published an extract from an interview with President Nursultan Nazarbayev where he talked about his own understanding of the term “power” in a strict sense, denoting “privilege of being entrusted with authority to govern”.

The TV and radio complex of Kazakhstan’s presidency published an extract from an interview with President Nursultan Nazarbayev where he talked about his own understanding of the term “power” in a strict sense, denoting “privilege of being entrusted with authority to govern”.
“I guess it’s just hard to define it in one single word. Before me, a lot of wise people expressed their opinions about what real power is? They said that power was evil. Money does also not bring happiness. Therefore, it would be best to escape from that burden and live the life of a commoner. The real source of happiness, they say, lies in there. But we the people, who are privileged or happened to be leaders and hold the power, need to think differently about it. Power is, first and foremost, the responsibility. It has to be pointed out that the higher the post, the more the responsibilities which you assume”, he said.
Nursultan Nazarbayev has ruled Kazakhstan for nearly three decades, since the late 1980s, although even in 1992, when the first year of independence was going on, it was often suggested that his term in office wouldn’t last long. That kind of speculation had been based on the perception that domestic public opinion continued to consider the legitimacy of his administration to have been derived from the blessing of the former USSR leadership in Moscow. Those holding such a view said that the power struggle in the conditions of independence would be fought in accordance with the new rules, and the other contestants therefore would have the advantage. Yet Nursultan Nazarbayev still remains in office. No one, that would seriously oppose him, has shown up over the past 28 years.
A fascinating paradox can be found in the biography of Nursultan Nazarbayev. While making the first steps into adulthood, he obviously wasn’t thinking of pursuing a career not only in management, but also even in creativity and cultural fields, science or office sector. In one word, this native of South Kazakhstan wasn’t even planning to become a white collar. He went contrary to the ideals of all ambitious young Kazakhstanis. Hundreds, thousands of young men and girls from all over the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic flocked to Almaty in order to enter higher education institutions or universities with the aim of getting a shot at being somebody. It’s called “adam bolu” in Kazakh (“to be good citizens” or “to make yourself worthy”). Whereas Nursultan Nazarbayev went from Almaty suburbs to distant lands with a view to becoming a smelting plant worker.
It is worth mentioning that at that time such a choice might be interpreted as unwillingness to write one’s own ticket, and come up in the world. Some would also think that this young man could have decided to gain working experience first. You must agree, however, that a metallurgy plant job in the smelting industry is not at all suitable for such purposes.
In short, available evidence shows that Nursultan Nazarbayev opted to go the way of the working man. Yet it was fate or destiny that brought him to the very top of power. That’s just the point where the mystery of Nazarbayev’s phenomenal success story lies.
It is called the irony of fate in Western languages, including Russian and English. Or what usually our people say in this case: “Zhugirgen almaidy – buyrgan alady” – “The prize is not given to the one who seeks to reach it, but to the one who is destined to get it”. In other words, everyone has his own way, and anyone can’t cheat fate.
The fact that Nursultan Nazarbayev has remained in office until now with no real opponents gives the impression about Kazakhstan’s particular need for his leading role in establishing its statehood and in paving our nation’s way forward. The country has come a long way with him since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Turns out he has proved to be the most suitable person for that particular position. And you may call it fortune. But, as the saying goes, destiny isn’t a matter of chance, but of choice.

Aziz AYHAN


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