Officials in Astana famously lose their sense of humor when it comes to Borat, so the playing of his spoof version of Kazakhstan’s national anthem at a sporting ceremony in Kuwait isn’t raising many smiles in the Kazakh capital.
The Borat anthem was accidentally played by organizers at a medal ceremony at the Arab Shooting Championships. Gold medalist Maria Dmitrienko stood on the podium looking bemused at the mix-up, which was described as a “scandal” by Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Ilyas Omarov.
The false anthem – which extols Kazakhstan’s potassium and prostitutes and memorably contains the line “Kazakhstan – greatest country in the world, all other countries are run by little girls” – was played in the 2006 movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
The film featured Sacha Baron Cohen as a spoof journalist from Kazakhstan who engages in sexist, racist and childish antics around America. It delighted audiences in the West but left officials and ordinary people in Kazakhstan – where cinemas declined to show it – fuming that their country had been singled out for ridicule.
Kazakhstan’s not having much luck with its national anthem lately: The blunder in Kuwait came days after a goof-up in northern Kazakhstan, where the Ricky Martin song Livin' la Vida Loca was accidentally played instead of the national anthem at the opening of a skiing festival.
Officials weren’t amused then, either, and heads had to roll. The director of a local sports school was fired.
In the future, organizers of events at home and abroad might like to make sure they select the real national anthem, My Kazakhstan, a rather splendid ode to the sun, the sky and the steppe, with not a mention of prostitutes or potassium.