Just like with any psycho ex, the moment you mention them, as we did here our Genius Idea Friday segment, they show up again, doing a slow drive-by your parents’ house or imposing their tyrannical will on the population.
Sure, it doesn’t have quite the ring of Party Time, but this move made our staff think back to another dictator that while being the Father of his Country and the Universe, also decided to be Father Time.
Saparmyrat Ataýewiç Nyýazow, or as he wanted to be called, His Excellency Saparmurat Türkmenbaşy, President of Turkmenistan and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers (try jamming all that onto a throw pillow), with a cult of personality that even the man who promised to calm the rising seas—Barack Obama —would envy, on August 10, 2002 (for the rest of the world) issued a decree renaming the months of the year and most of the days of the week.
Curious as to which new month your birthday would have fallen in Turkmenistan? Hey, it’s PD—we’ve got that covered.
January: Türkmenbaşy. Obviously you’re going to start the year off with a month named after yourself, right? Come on, what dictator wouldn’t?
February: Baýdak. That’s what the national flag was called, and with their Flag Day just so happening to fall on Nyýazow’s birthday it was just a nice and unexpected bonus.
March: Nowruz. This new month is a little more tame and was named after the start of the Persian New Year—you know, the one that is celebrated at the White House.
April: Gurbansoltan. Just because you’re a big bad dictator that crushes any opposition to your rule, doesn’t mean that you can’t be a momma’s boy. Which he was in spades, renaming April after his mommy.
May: Magtymguly. This one was named after his favorite poet. Shocker, right? A momma’s boy and a fan of poetry? No wonder he turned out to be a homicidal dictator.
June: Oguz. Oguz was the name of the man credited with founding Turkmenistan.
July: Gorkut. What? You don’t know who Gorkut was? Come on! He was the main character in that Turkmen epic, Gorkut-Ata. Don’t worry, we knew it was on the tip of your tongue.
August: Alp Arslan. Again, he couldn’t have every month be too outlandish, so August was named after the second leader of the Seljuk Empire.
September: Ruhnama. This was his Mein Kampf, a rambling guide on living which would make for a painful PD Book Club pick…so look for it next year.
October: Garaşsyzlyk. This month was named after Turkmenistan Independence.
November: Sanjar. Sanjar was the last leader of the Seljuk Empire, obvi.
December: Bitaraplyk. Now, when you think of an appropriate name for a month, your mind goes immediately to neutrality, right? Well, in Turkmenistan, apparently being neutral on the world scale was important enough to name December after the concept.
Now to make a long tyrannical story short, once Türkmenbaşy kicked it in 2006, it only took two years to get his calendar decree overturned.
Check back next Monday for more on Türkmenbaşy and how he felt about the days of the week.