Not content building only his own personality cult, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is ensuring his father becomes a subject of adoration in Turkmenistan as well.
The state-run TDH news agency reported on October 21 that Berdymukhamedov has released a novel about his 81-year-old father’s boyhood entitled, "The Bird of Happiness."
The speaker of the Turkmen parliament, members of government, and MPs attended the launch, which was held in Dashoguz.
Berdymukhamedov, a trained dentist, has already published books on medicinal plants, carpet weaving, horses, history and ethnography.
The novel narrates 18 months of Myalikguly Berdymukhamedov's childhood during the lean years of World War Two. During the war, nine-year-old Myalikguly assumed responsibility for his family when his father Berdymukhamed Annayev was drafted.
For the president, the story of his father’s life was “a school of courage and maturity,” TDH said, in what appears to be the first review of the book.
"Events the Turkmen president's father lived through during those years of hardship and his enormous achievements and selflessness are examples of great heroism. Tales of early maturation, unselfish love for the motherland and people, hard work, high spirituality, national traditions and customs, moral and ethical values of the Turkmen people [...] became for the head of the Turkmen state, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, a school of courage and maturity," TDH said.
Like his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov, Berdymukhamedov has a weakness for his family. Niyazov – who called himself Turkmenbashi ("Father of the Turkmens") – named several months after himself and his mother and made his spiritual guide, the Rukhnama, required reading in schools and government offices.
Berdymukhamedov – who likes to be called Arkadag ("Protector") and cultivates the image of a superhero man of action – unveiled a five-meter bronze bust of his father to mark the patriarch’s birthday this August at a newly built compound for the Interior Ministry’s unit No. 1001, where the elder Berdymukhamedov served and retired as a lieutenant colonel back in 1982.
Last October, a bust of the patriarch appeared in a park in his home village of Yzgant, some 50 kilometers from Ashgabat.
The Turkmen president has not forgotten to pay tribute to his grandfather Berdymukhamed Annayev either: The local school in Yzgant bears the name of the president’s grandfather, who worked there as a teacher until his death in Ashgabat’s catastrophic 1948 earthquake.