My name is Alfia Bakieva. My family is Tatar and we are from the Republic of Russia – Tatarstan and Bashkiria. During my life I have been in different countries, but I have never been in my Fatherland… This is my story: Ancestors of my mother were rich merchants of the Silk Road. During “The Great Terror” in the Soviet Union, my great-grandparents were subjected to the order of confiscation of property and shooting down by Stalin…. Miraculously they managed to escape to Novosibirsk in Siberia, leaving behind everything that they had.

Two grandparents of my father were prisoners for 7/8 years in Germany during II World War… Miraculously both of them came back home safe.

I was born in Novosibirsk (Soviet Union). My family followed my grandfather who was sent by the decree of the Soviet Union to work in Kyrgyzstan. My brother and my sister were born there, in the city Kara-Balta. In 1990s during the “Perestroika,” the government of Kyrgyzstan decided to do some changes: make work for the mainly native people of that country and see that all works and documents were produced in the native national Kyrgyz language and not at all in Russian. My father was an anaesthesiologist – resuscitation specialist, head of the department of Anaesthesiology of the hospital of Kara-Balta. For him, because of the rule about the use of the national language, it became nearly impossible to continue to work there.

Native people of Kyrgyzstan during Perestroika begin to be angry with immigrants and to frighten them and make people of other nationalities want to escape. People were were running through the city by horses and dropping bottle bombs to burn down houses. Near by the border of that country began The Civil War in Tadzhikistan.

In the same moment began “The Osh riots” in the south of Kyrgyzstan, in which an estimated 1,200 people were killed. My father received the order of military mobilisation for the civil defence. Outside of the hospital was waiting a helicopter to bring my father in the center of “The Osh riots”. He refused to go there. He came home and found us as we were at that moment. He took us like that to the train station and took a train to Novosibirsk to escape from Kyrgyzstan. After 2 days and a half we arrived in the city 250km from Novosibirsk. We had no money to continue the trip…

I don’t remember how, but miraculously we arrived in Novosibirsk. In the city where I was born, we had the status of refugees from a state that was not existing any more -Soviet Union. We now lived in a new country, the Russian Federation.

I was 7 years old, my brother was 5 years old, my sister was only 1 year old. My family lost everything again. I don’t know how my parents affronted that dangerous period, I remember that it was really hard… For me it was especially at school, even if I was born in Novosibirsk I had a status of refugee and for this reason I was subject of jokes, psychological and physical violence from my classmates. My brother and sister and I were lucky to have the possibility to frequent music and art schools. Now we are all three professional musicians.

With all that terrible destiny, after losing everything for different times in different moments, my family always preserved our Tatar cultural heritage through music, songs and dances. And this life path of my family taught me that governments, countries could try to cancel the identity of people, but through art, the free soul of people will continue to live and blossom.

Alfia Bakieva