I’ve asked a few people here in Kyrgyzstan what they think about the World Nomad Games and the response has been unanimously positive. I have also seen this video playing in the market, on a big screen in Naryn, one of the larger towns outside of Bishkek and Osh. It appears that whilst there is of course a level of tourist hype attached to such ventures there is also a stong current of national pride at the nomadic culture and associated practices, that is still so evident throughout the country. As a tourist in Kyrgyzstan it is nigh on impossible to go anywhere or meet anyone without being quizzed on which cultural foods or areas or past times I have eaten, visited or engaged with. “Do you like Kyrgyzstan?” is one of the first questions I am asked and is met with great joy when I express my admiration for the beauty of the country and the hospitality of the people.
The range of ongoing cultural traditions is vast and is mainly focused around horses, food and the creation of a beautiful home environment … all pretty usual and expected until you see that some of the ‘games’ are like Kok-Boru – a 2 team game where a decapitated sheep or goat is ridden into the opposing team’s endzone … a bit like polo!!! Such games have a lot of social and cultural significiance and are incredibly popular following the country’s independance from the then USSR in 1991.