Some kind of "experiment" has been made over Belarus.
Siarzhuk Dolhusheu is not just a musician, but one of the main popularisers of Belarusian folklore. Not many people know that he was among the founders of the "Free Choir", which became one of the driving forces of the protests in 2020.
The musician explained in an interview to the Studio X-97 programme of Charter97.org how Belarusians differ from other nations, in particular, from the Slavs.
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– How do Belarusians differ from other Slavs?
– With our history, culture, set of mind and songs. This is precisely the originality and peculiarity – our traditional culture, you cannot confuse it with anyone else. If we understand this more, we will be able to identify ourselves more easily among other nations. Why did the Hungarians, for example, begin to create their own dance houses and their own songs at the beginning of the 20th century? Because in the song, in the culture lies our historical code and our self-identification.
– Siarzhuk, they did a lot to ensure that non-Russian culture was at the level of villages during Soviet times. And “serious”, “great”, “real” culture was only one by default. And as one of the results – in different countries that were covered with Soviet-Russian one, there is a feeling that our culture is such a “yokel”, in Ukraine they said “sharovarschina”. What can we do to get out of these issues and accept that there is no only one great culture, and ours is also cool?
– It seems to me that some kind of experiment was really carried out in Belarus. What must be done to dislike your native things so much, to know almost nothing, and even to name the streets after those executioners who killed thousands of Belarusians? This is just such a mockery. And if you understand this, you can simply be horrified.
It seems to me that there is one way out – to show the truth, to show an alternative to all this. When I performed in schools, children loved these concerts. When they came out to sing Dunaevsky or talk about the greatness of Pushkin – children were not interested. No one of them knows Lenin anymore. When I was playing my instruments, children who had never seen them before and listened to modern music, heard it somewhere inside of them. These were the most memorable concerts for them. I’m sure they remembered it.
I see it at concerts. Belarusians are coming deeper inside of their souls, to know themselves, and their goals in the country. And here, of course, you can give them a lot of virtual food through the Internet, literature, and find truthful information.
The authorities in Belarus are now doing everything to destroy this, so that people have only the Great Patriotic War and the “great” Soviet heritage, then our job is to make sure that people know the alternative, the truthful, the real one. I am sure that the same eleventh grade students who are now studying at a Belarusian school somewhere in Minsk or Baranavichy still have doubts about what they hear. "Do it. It was like that for us. We had the great and wise Lenin.” However, they are online. They understand that there can’t only be black, there is white and red, and green, and whatever you want.
– Please, in your opinion, rate the Belarusians’ knowledge of their culture. From 1 to 10.
– I can’t talk about all Belarusians. I can say that after 2020 there is great interest, such that people began to discover new names, and areas of activity, and became more interested in folklore. But it’s still hard.
– More than five or less?
– I'm an optimist. More than five, of course. Also, whom are we talking about? For example, those who are living in Europe are more interested. I observed such a situation when I was touring the USA. There was a very great interest. I don’t remember that before so many people gathered for Kupala and Kaliady. There was a community, but the emigrants were not so interested. And now a new wave is coming, they are interested in the local community and holidays. It is very pleasing that interest in emigration is more than seven points.
But in Belarus, it may be different. This is how the situation developed. If we consider the province, people have no time for culture there, people want to survive somehow in all this, people want to earn money for their bread, for milk, so that there will be nothing – no politics, no war, so that everyone leaves them alone. They have no time for culture – they need to survive somehow in the conditions in this situation.
– There is an idea that Lukashenka hates everything Belarusian, therefore he destroys the state and his own language, does not allow it to develop, the flag is not Belarusian, and so on, and so far. Why do you think this happens? Do you see any reason for Lukashenka to hate everything Belarusian?
– It seems to me that we’ve gotten a whole generation of people who destroy and continue to torture everything Belarusian and all the Belarusian people. They betrayed it a long time ago. It seems to me that this is just an experiment on the country, on the Belarusians, which began back in the 30s.
When I read the works of our ethnographers, our authors and poets, when they were tried for doing something for the benefit of Belarus, their works were recognized as “extremist” and simply destroyed, we see that this is happening today. We don’t have “independent media” now, it’s all “extremism”.
I looked at the poster for my events, there was a festival that I organized, a concert, and the logos of media partners on the poster were all “extremist.” What is this? This is occupation, the destruction of everything. They are removing the Belarusian language in the underground, as well as Latin inscriptions. They are replacing it with the Russian inscriptions.