All hail Turkmenbashi!
That’s Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov when he is at home in Turkmenistan.
The delightful Turkmenbashi's name means ‘leader of the ethnic Turkmen’ an unwieldy label he picked up from the Young Turk himself, Kemal Ataturk the ‘father of the Turks’.
Turkmenbashi, the leader of the state of Turkmenistan, is, to put it mildly, a lunatic.
Among his claims to fame are the renaming of all the months following the fashion of the French Revolution. January is now Turkmenbashi, after himself of course. April is now ‘Mother’ after his own beloved Mama and there are other months called ‘The Flag’ and ‘Independence’.
In 2002 (and its still known as that, he hasn’t yet interfered with year numbering conventions), he decreed that there would be a new system for dividing up the ages of all Turkmen and Turkwomen. He was quoted as saying “our ancestors had a clearer system of the ages of man, childhood lasted to 13, adolescence to 25, youth to 37, maturity to 49, the age of the prophet to 62, the age of inspiration to 73, the white bearded elder to 85, old age to 97 and the age of Oguz Khan (an ancient Turkmen ruler) to 109.
Alas if you happen to live longer than 109, you miss out on a category completely. The great man himself moved into the age of inspiration around the time of the announcement.
Flushed with officially endorsed inspiration, he went on to carry out other sweeping moves. All the libraries outside the capital Ashgabat were closed on the belief that country bumpkins and villagers do not read books.
The rural community also suffered another blow with a threat to remote health services. He asked in Feb 2005 ‘why should we waste good medical specialists on the villages when they should be working in the capital?”
The answer could make the villagers very sick indeed.
Niyazov has been in power since Soviet times, rising through the ranks of the Communist Party.
His cult of personality stretched to the renaming of the Caspian town of Krasnovodsk to Turkmenbashi and there are monuments and photographs of him whereever you look in Turkmenistan.
His central belief is that his country is devoid of a national identity therefore he is generously providing his own to compensate.
L'etat, cest moi!
Eire go bra
Spoon age flames over nacre
Stoned by other nature’s acre
Lourdes to the scene of the crime
Seeking water miracles in time
A blip and its all gone
Even lost what its founded on
Tweaking on the muscle of the ages
Abandoned by busker bouncer pages
Hustling for gold in easy street
Hammer by side, drums at my feet
Hampered by thoughts unseen
Dangling faith fresh kerosene
Mobile out of me it jumps
Blasted seed on ground it thumps
Onan the barbarian at the gates
Fellflung to his fortunate fates
Quietly tortured in grizzly rooms
Photocopied etching of family tombs
Catacomb raiders of the lost arcane
Underbrush the murmurs of growing pain
Electric memories of the queen beholder
Giving you the thermal iceberg shoulder
Soul bandaged beyond repair
Morning bonfires for vanity fair
Along time ahead I see the ghost
Releasing me from acknowledged toast
Hosanna’s barbecue t-bone ashes
unseemly inchoate but ruly clashes
On the tiniest print of the final dots
Biled by rancour and cancerous clots
And after the trifecta is overcomewith
Brightness paints the doubt on thumb width
just phlogiston left to poke in ruins
and the torn ticket of the beaten shoo-ins