Late one evening in early April, the president of Turkmenistan emerged, dressed in a bright red tracksuit, on a garishly lit stage in the boondoggle Caspian holiday resort of Awaza.
There were only five months to go before the start of the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, or AIMAG, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov told his audience, “and we still don’t have an anthem.”
He then sauntered over to a synthesizer kit on the stage, gave a signal to an accompanying band and broke into a raucous performance. “O forward, forward, forward,” the president lip-synched to a disco-pop backtrack as he roused his audience into a frenzy by punching his fists repeatedly into the air. “My native land – Turkmenistan. O forward, and only forward. My native land – Turkmenistan.”
As state-run Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper reported on April 10, three days after the concert, that song, titled “Forward, Forward, Only Forward My Beloved Turkmenistan,” is now to be the official anthem for the AIMAG, which will take place over 11 days in Ashgabat in September.
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