Following my grandfather’s footsteps…

Ancestry study is the study of a person’s upbringing, their attitude towards life, their family relationships, and their spirit. In simpler terms, it is the knowledge of our ancestors. Before the October Revolution of 1917, the life of the Kazakh people was different. We had our own vision and mentality. However, the generational continuity was disrupted. I saw a list of elders who were 70-80 years old and who could have been dangerous to Soviet authorities at the time. When I wondered, «What damage could they have caused to the authorities?» I realized that this was a deliberate attempt to destroy generational continuity. We lost our integrity as individuals due to the ideology of the Soviet regime, which promoted atheism. People suffered psychologically. We lost our worldview and the history that existed before the 20th century.

How did I come to study my ancestors? In the late 90s, I asked myself, «Who am I? What kind of person am I?» and then I began my search. I attended many training sessions and lectures. I realized that my fears for my family, children, and husband were complicating my life. I went through several training sessions to overcome these fears. Some of them helped me, but their effectiveness faded over time. And I would find myself sinking back into a state of anxiety. In 2005, I met Valery and Larisa Dokuchaev, and turned to them for advice. Valery Vasilyevich has a candidate degree in physics and mathematics, and his wife Larisa Nikolaevna has a candidate degree in philosophy.

During the first seminar, we created a genogram. The genogram is different from Kazakh genealogy. Here, you write not only about ancestors from your father’s side, but also from your mother’s side. Because both sides play a significant role in shaping a person. And it only goes back 3-4 generations. Through the genogram, I not only learned about my grandmothers and grandfathers, but also found an answer to the question that had been troubling me. It turns out, both of my grandmothers were widowed. My father’s mother was 28 years old when my grandfather was exiled to the Far East. She never remarried. Additionally, she lost two children. My mother’s mother was widowed around the age of 30-35. She remarried my grandfather for the second time. By the way, my grandfather’s first wife and son also died of hunger. Furthermore, my grandmother lost 9 children in two marriages. I discovered that their widowhood unconsciously triggered my fear of losing my husband and children.


I lived with my grandmother when I was in first grade. She shared all her sorrow with me, her first granddaughter. She had a daughter named Konyrtai from her first husband. But at the age of 13, she died due to a curse. I remembered this situation when I created the genogram. My firstborn is also a girl, and then I understood why I was so afraid for my daughter. It was only then that I learned that my fear stemmed from my ancestors. It was a fear stored in my genetic memory. The methods suggested by the Dokuchaevs helped me completely overcome these fears in a year and a half.



We also have a syndrome of victimhood and orphanhood. Many of our grandparents became orphans because of the war and various tragedies in the 20th century. The behavior that developed among them, the feeling of being orphaned, still exists in 80-90 percent of our population, I believe. But we can work with this syndrome.


The revolution, famine, and repression that became a social catastrophe in the 20th century caused serious damage to the Kazakh people and left their mark on the nation’s genetics. That’s why many families remained silent for years about their ancestors: «Don’t talk about them, don’t ask, don’t even mention their names.» My great-grandfather Matkarim was deported to Siberia in 1928-1929. Matkarim’s son, Abdurakhman, was also repressed in 1943. My father was scared and didn’t ask about his ancestors. Then, in 2018, I visited Margilan for the first time to find my grandfather, overcoming all my fears, worries, and other negative feelings. Margilan is a city in Fergana, Uzbekistan. They say my great-grandfather came from there. This search work was very important to me because for many years, my grandmother’s words, «We were enemies of the people,» saddened me deeply.


So, when we arrived in Margilan, we first visited the historical museum. We met its director and told him about the purpose of our trip. They were amazed that we had come to find our great-grandfather after all these years. There, we found new information about our grandfather. He had three cotton factories, trading houses, and he helped orphans and the poor. He even built a fire station. During that trip, we met Mukhtarkhon, whose father had seen and known my grandfather Matkarim. We also heard many warm words, including the words of Mukhtarkhon’s elder: «You should be proud of such an ancestor.» That calmed my heart, and I think that’s what I had always been searching for. The feeling I had at that moment was indescribable.


Mukhtarkhon also shared some interesting facts about our great-grandfather Matkarim. He speculated that his descendants might have scattered. He added that in 2012, a man came and asked about my grandfather. Unfortunately, Mukhtarkhon couldn’t remember his name or even keep his phone number. This led to the thought that our grandfather probably has other descendants. This means that our search is not yet over.


Many people come to us for consultations. Their first question is, «Why do we need to know our grandparents?» That’s when I ask them, «How would you feel if tomorrow your grandchildren didn’t know your name?» Nobody wants to be forgotten. That answers many questions.


Interviewee: Aliya Sagymbayeva

Interviewer: Kymbat Kalieva

Translator: Diana Tsoy-Davis