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Kaigal-ool Khovalyg: One has to cherish one's native language

Kaigal-ool Khovalyg: One has to cherish one's native languageYesterday was the birthday of one of the best known Tuvan throat-singers - Kaigal-ool Kim-oolovich Khovalyg. On the occasion of his 50th birthday, which was widely celebrated in the republic in 2010, his colleague khoomeizhi Otkun Dostai took an interview with the celebrant. It was published in the Live Journal on the tuvamedee page.. We are now publishing this material in full.
He was born on 20 August 1960 at the foot of Mt. Bayan-Dugai, near Chadaana river in the deepest night, and sang khoomei.
His father was of the Bora-Khol Khovalygs. Kim-ool Chaptygbayevich Khovalyg was born in 1935 in the Bazhyn-Alaak village of Dzun-Khemchik kozhuun. He was a teacher at the local high school. He taught children to understand automobiles in the villages Bayan-Tala, Chyrgaky, and Bazhyn-Alaak. People said about him that he could diagnose a car problem from its sound at a distance.
His mother, Chudur Enchek-Kulakovna Oorzhak, was born in 1936 in Dzun-Khemchik kozhuun.
If you dig around in her family tree, she is the third daughter of Mongush Sodunam. That means that our hero has Khovalyg and Mongush blood running in his veins. Chudur Enchek-Kulakovna was a magnificent performer of folk songs and chastushkas.
His beloved wife Anna Arapchorovna Khovalyg belongs by profession to the workers of the magnificent Soviet school of business.
They have the eldest son Sayan and two daughters, Syrga and Dolzatmaa.
The Khovalyg couple are grandma and grandpa. Their son gave them a granddaughter, and their daughter gave them a grandson.
He has a house on the land, and an iron horse. The whole world listens to his songs. He has traveled around the entire world at least 7-9 times with his performances. He is one of the founders of the legendary folk-group "Tyva", and the founder and soloist of "Huun-Huur-Tu". He played with the rock-music legend of 20th century Frank Zappa, and remains one of the family friends to this day. The great Stevie Wonder came to one of his concerts after hearing a live broadcast just to meet him. His song is heard in a Hollywood blockbuster "Geronimo, or American history". He is simply the National Khoomeizhi of RT, Merited Artist of RF, Laureate of the Prize of Lenin Komsomol, and holder of Order of RT.
Let me introduce your well known and beloved, the great Kaigal-ool Kim-oolovich Khovalyg. And now, dear reader, let's talk with him from the heart…
- Tell me please, you have traveled all over the world, have seen the technological, material and daily modern civilization in many different places, what would you like to bring to Tuva? Would you like your Chadan to turn in to a metropolis like Chicago in a few years?
- Yes, for various reasons as well as because of work, we travel all over the world all the time, and, of course, we notice differences in various countries. Peole of developed countries have their culture and their customs, which gave the impulse for further development. But we Tuvans have a nomadic lifestyle. For that reason, great degree of civilization like there is in the world, is nor very necessary for us. It simply messes up our way of life.
Civilization is good, but with moderation. For example, many people strive to move to Kyzyl from the villages. Good, one can understand it, but let me ask: who will live in the villages? I do not want my Chadan to turn into Chicago, there is not much good in that.
- Because you are such a well known person, people tell many stories about you. For example, that you did not go to school, that you just herded horses. Please tell us about it, what is the connection between you and horses?
- Yes, horses and the life of a nomad play a great role in my life. After I finished 8th grade, I worked as a helper of a sheep- and horse-herder. By that time my mother was left alone and I had to help her. All my relatives approved my decision, so I graduated after 8 grades. My brothers, uncles - all of them are horse-herders, and I love horses very much to this day.
- Tell us, what films did you like to watch as a child, and do you have a favorite film?
- Yes, I loved movies with American Indians as a child, for example "Chingachgook". It is because there are very beautiful horses in it, and I was crazy about them. At that time, every film was shown every night for a week in our village and I of course, tried never to miss any of it. And of course, Indian films, there also are unbelievably beautiful horses and magical music.
- Did you cry, watching those films?
- No, but tell me, Otkun, is there such a Tuvan that never cried while watching Indian films back then?
- What traditions and customs should contemporary young people observe? After all, it is not possible to observe all of them, right?
- Well, after all, the times are changing, but one should strive to observe the customs. One of them is the elementary respect for an older person. For example, when I was young we had high respect for teachers; if somebody said "The teacher is coming" it was a special meaning.
When a person is born, he does not go to school right away, so that correct upbringing from early years plays a great role. And definitely, I would not want them to forget their native language. It is very important that every nation should have its own language. I have become convinced of that while performing in many different countries.
- You have been to America many times, and in connection with that, I recall a wise thought by our ancestors "a nation without a native language is not a nation". What can you say on this subject, after all, there is no American language?
- Yes, that is a very interesting question. We often have to perform in various cities in the USA. Many people think that there is an American language, but it is not true, it is a collection of many people from different countries, and they speak English. And way back, America is the native country of our distant relatives - the Indians.
- Khovalyg, tell me, if you had the opportunity to have a sincere talk with the Buddha, what would you talk about?
- O-o! what a question…
Well, of course, if such an opportunity came up, I would talk about my small nation, and ask for prosperity and happiness for it. But personally, what can I say, Otkun, I have a son and two daughters, a beloved wife. So, certainly, I would ask for health and happiness for them.
- Imagine that for one day you would become the Chairman of the Government of RT? What orders would you give first of all? And in general, what would you do?
- Otkun, don't give me these wrong questions. It is also a very difficult question…
But I'll try to answer it in my own way. In these difficult times, I understand that there are not enough jobs, etc.. So I would remind the people not to forget that we are connected with livestock herding, with farming. Those are the main priorities of our Tuva. To improve the lives of the herders and rural population.
- So it works out that you do not differ very much from the current politics in our republic with the young chairman Kara-ool Sholban Valerievich.
- Yes, in general, it is true. One can see our young government at work. Especially in the city: improved roadways, more light. It is good.
- What bright impressions from school times can you remember?
- My school years were just like those of my other age-mates. The only thing I remember between schools and the districts after that - there were many festivals and competitions. And, of course, I participate in them from the very beginning, I sang songs, and a little bit of sygyt and kargyraa. Nobody specially taught me that. But there were many very talented people both on my mother's and my father's side of the family. I grew up with my grandfathers and grandmothers, and they were all magnificent singers of folk songs, chastushkas and sygyt-khoomei.
- If somebody simply gave you a yurt, stuffed chock-full of dollars, and told you: this is yours, Khovalyg, do with it whatever you want, what would you do?
- If one gets so much money out of the blue, it is very difficult. Most likely, I would buy a yurt for everyone, and make sure that every Tuvan has some cattle. Just imagine what I would do with so much money. I would give it away to relatives, and the rest of it to other people (he laughs).
- Was there a moment in your youth that you are ashamed of when you think of it? One does all kinds of things when one is young.
- Why wouldn't there be, of course there is. This is a piece of my history that I never told anybody or any media, you will be the first one to hear it and write about it.
Every time I think of it, I apologize to her in my mind again and again to this day.
When I was young and a horse-herder, my friends dared me to steal a horse, pushing and encouraging me, after all, my name is Kaigal. And everybody knows very well what the name means. (Cattle rustler, horse thief). So, go and prove your name, do it and we'll watch.
So one night I had to steal a horse, and, of course, I was caught. I was locked up in Chadan jail for three months. Then they let me go, when it was explained that the horse belonged to our only grandma-front veteran, Vera Chuldumovna Bailak. But she, in her turn, when she found out whose son I was, asked them to let me go. She turned out to be related to my father.
So I am very ashamed to this day remembering this incident. And of course, I have apologized to her many times and invited her to concerts many times. After this thing happened, my relatives held an extraordinary meeting and sent me off to Kyzyl, to become an artist. Before that, people from the Philharmony used to come and wanted to take me back with them, but back then I would just get on the horse and ride away to put some distance between us…

Otkun Dostai, translated by Heda Jindrak
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Event announces

1) 15.08.2022: DAY OF TUVA REPUBLIC (Tuva)

2) 16.08.2022 - 18.08.2022: IV International Khoomei Festival, devoted to the 60th anniversary of People's Khoomeizhi Kongar-ool Ondar (Kyzyl, Tuva)

3) 01.09.2022: Day of memory and honour of Tuvan volunteers who fighted against fascism (Tuva)

4) 01.11.2022: Day of Tuvan language (Tuva)

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