Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Talented Mr. Berdymukhammedov

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov performs on his birthday in Ashgabat on June 29.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov performs on his birthday in Ashgabat on June 29.
Being president of Turkmenistan, a country of some 5 million people with huge natural gas reserves, would not, one would think, leave much time for anything but the affairs of state.

Not so.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has surprised his people by making an appearance on stage to perform his new song. Before a packed house, he is shown in a video running above the stage strumming a guitar to the accompaniment of...himself, shown also playing accordion.

WATCH: President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov performs "My White Rose For You":

It was no doubt hard for many to believe their president was also a songwriter, and indeed, there is reason not to believe it.

Although state television has identified Berdymukhammedov as the writer and performer of the song "My White Rose For You," it bears an uncanny resemblance to "On My Wedding Day," written and performed by Dovlet Amanlykov and posted on YouTube in 2009.

WATCH: Dovlet Amanlykov performs "On My Wedding Day":

Still, it was a look at a lighter side of Berdymukhammedov, whose attire seemed to have come from the American children's show "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood."

And the video of him "rocking out" in Ashgabat did have people on their feet. Who would dare to sit while Turkmenistan's head of state was crooning on stage?

By taking someone else's song and making it his own Berdymukhammedov is following in a tradition established by his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov. Close inspection by a contributor to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, also a historian, several years ago revealed Niyazov's book "Rukhnama" contains more than 70 pages of material taken word-for-word from Clifford E. Bosworth's "The New Islamic Dynasties."

-- Bruce Pannier
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Comment Sorting
by: Catherine Fitzpatrick from: New York
August 16, 2011 22:06!

I can't tell you how many hours I myself spent looking for the clips of Berdymukhamedov playing "My White Rose" after reading about it on TurkmenInform etc -- and I also saw the claim that it was a knock-off of an Uzbek folk tune or something -- and here you've even come up with the original. I was dredging the back pages of Youtube using Iranian search terms -- anything, anything to find these clips.

So I am more than impressed at your finds here, Bruce!
In Response

by: Aftab Kazi from: Washington, DC
August 17, 2011 06:55
Many songs in many languages, indeed many, can be relatively similar inspired by similar sentiments, albeit in different words. This is particularly so within Turkic, Persian, Arabic, Sindhi, Hindi, Urdu and almost all Eastern languages. It is also true in several Western European languages. Turkmen poetry of Honorable President Berdymukhmmadov should not be singled out. Thank you.
In Response

by: Michael from: Moscow
August 17, 2011 09:55
Dear Aftab Kazi, if you have read the article and listened the two songs attentively enough, you would find that the problem is not about relatively similarities of eastern songs... In this particular case the two songs are exactly identical word-by-word and the melody is the same. An that means - president bears full responsibility for Plagiarism!!!

by: Bruce Pannier from: Prague
August 17, 2011 08:47
Thank you Catherine but the real credit goes to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service. They told me about the story and tracked down the Berdymukhammedov and Amanlykov videos. I'm just fortunate to be able to work with them and the other Central Asian services.

Bruce Pannier

by: Jaan from: France
August 17, 2011 09:26
Poor Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç! Benjamin Franklin's words came to mind:
"Pride that dines on vanity, sups on contempt."

by: A Turkmen patriot from: EU
August 17, 2011 21:15
While he, the talented Mr Berdymukhamedov owns whole Turkmenistan and its all resources why he should not steal someone's song and music? It's business as usual for him and nobody would say a word about it in Turkmenistan. Soon he will write his own spiritual code like his predecessor's Rukhnama and all busyness people try to use for getting better contracts. It's fun for the Westerners, but it's big tragedy for those common people who make living inside of Turkmenistan.

by: Eziz from: Oslo
August 21, 2011 10:30
We all laughed when the Czech president stole a pen. As always, our Turkmen president outshone him by stealing a son. Berdymuhammedov FTW!

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