ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan: “Worshipping Mother – Worshipping Something Sacred” might not sound like a bestseller in the making, but in tightly-controlled Turkmenistan the president’s book is all but guaranteed to fly off the shelves.
State media have heaped praise on President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s new tome, which is dedicated to his mother and her Soviet-era generation.
The publication has enjoyed regular coverage on state television since official release this month and is now available in all major bookstores in the capital Ashgabat.
The book is Berdymukhamedov’s 29th since he became president in 2006, with previous works including poetry, a seven-volume encyclopedia on local medicinal plants, a biography of his father and a guide to local horses.
Gulnabat Yagmurova, a teacher in Ashgabat, told the state mouthpiece Neutral Turkmenistan that “Worshipping Mother” would be taught in classes at her school.
It “will enrich our pedagogical work and will serve as a compass for the upbringing of youth,” she said.
Discussing the book on television Friday, a provincial representative of Berdymukhamedov’s party noted that a Turkmen woman’s “best features” are “devotion to the family home and loyalty to our national traditions”.
In “Worshipping Mother” which is priced $15 and available in Turkmen, Russian and English, Berdymukhamedov describes Ogulat Berdymukhamedova, who was born in 1937 and raised him and his five sisters, as “stern but fair”.
Although the book lacks personal insights Berdymukhamedov does disclose that he ended a visit to Turkey early to tend for her when she fell ill in 2015.
Beyond filial duty, Berdymukhamedov’s elevation of his mother could be seen as an echo of the policy pursued by his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov, who always presented himself as a loyal son to his mother who died in a 1948 earthquake.
Niyazov, who was replaced by Bedymukhamedov after his death, went much further than books, however, renaming the month of April Gurbansoltan after the family matriarch.
Berdymukhamedov restored the month’s former name after coming to power.
Rights groups regularly bill Turkmenistan as one of the most closed and repressive countries in the world.
Berdymukhamedov, who turned 61 on Friday, dominates news coverage completely and is often shown on television riding horses, driving racing cars and leading the army in military drills.—AFP