Tajikistan: God’s Chosen President Gets Play Treatment

A playwright in Tajikistan has written a semi-mystical and highly complimentary play in honor of the country’s president. This is just the latest in the rapidly developing cult of adulation building around Emomali Rahmon.

The play so far exists only in print form and has yet to be staged. The Adib printing house has produced 1,000 copies of the script of the play, which consists of a sequence of 15 scenes.

Abdugaffor Abdudjaffor’s “The Chosen One” depicts Rahmon as a loving father, visionary modern politician and an exemplary teacher. Other characters include Rahmon’s mother, wife, one of daughters, Ozoda, his eldest son, Rustam, and the late Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Crowd scenes also feature appearances from foreign reporters, representatives of different levels of society, as well as “slanderers and scammers,” according to a report in Asia-Plus.

In addition, there are also appearances from angelic figures, old man Nura and a poet, all characters whose function is to reflect the writer’s ultimate thesis. Namely, that Rahmon was chosen by God to lead the country.

In the play, after Rahmon is elevated to leadership position during a session of the Supreme Council in November 1992, he is greeted by a wise old man in shining white garb who informs the new head of state that he is the ray of hope that the Tajik people have been awaiting for 1,000 years or more.

Later, an angel impertinently appears to Rahmon, although he does at least have the decency to “apologize for interfering with his [Rahmon’s] thoughts.” This mystical being states that only Rahmon can see people from the world beyond.

“God doesn’t just choose anybody to a Padishah,” the angel says, a touch defensively.

Rahmon appeals to the angel for a miracle, a sign. Quick as a flash, the angel explains that his very election to the post as president is in itself a miraculous act. The second feat of wonder was that Rahmon succeeded in bringing an end to war in Tajikistan.

The angel develops something of a fixation with the civil war, falling over himself to commend the president on his bravery in going to potentially dangerous places. Rahmon modestly responds that “it was no great achievement, it was just my regular work.”

The climax of the play see Rahmon the full-fledged politician of day, dazzling the entire world with his spellbinding speeches at the United Nations General Assembly. 

Those preferring to get the real story from the horse’s mouth have been spoiled for choice of late. Tajik state broadcasters have been busy recording audiobook versions of Rahmon’s literary output to play over the radio. These lengthy programs will, in the words of their creators, help enhance the sense of patriotism in every Tajik. Audiobooks will serve the interests of elderly and blind people thus far deprived the pleasure of reading Rahmon’s oeuvre, they also say. 

Rahmon is not the first Central Asian leader to become subject of such, frankly, bizarre dramaturgical imaginings. Back in 2011, a play was staged in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, depicting President Nursultan Nazarbayev prancing through a magical forest, talking to trees. The creator of that play, Erkin Zhuasbek, said in an interview that his intent was to tell the story of Kazakhstan’s independence in an accessible manner.

Tajikistan: God’s Chosen President Gets Play Treatment

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