Aktan and its Magic Journey Send to a friend Print Version
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March 11, 2008. Issyk-Kul ---Nurbolot Jamagulov lives with his grandmother, grandfather, uncle and aunt, in the village of Tortkul, in Tonsk district of Issyk Kul Oblast.  He is seven years old and is in his first year at the local school.

Nurbolot’s parents live and work in Karakol, more than 200 kilometres from Tortkul.  But he doesn’t feel lonely, because his extended family – his grandmother Tolombubu, grandfather Jamangul, aunt Parizat and uncle Maksat – all love him.

Eight months ago a son was born to Maksat and Parizat.  When the child appeared, the whole family discussed what to name the firstborn.  And then Nurbolot said – let’s call my brother Aktan, because he’s clever, strong and all the children in the village love him.

Aktan is the hero of the animated serial “The Magical Journey” which is already in its second year on the Kyrgyz State Television channel with the support of UNICEF.  Along with his friend Akylai, a donkey and other animated heroes, they travel from episode to episode, having a variety of adventures and finding ways out of unbelievable difficulties.

How to fix grandmother’s favourite cup which was accidentally broken, how to make up with a friend, what to do to avoid falling ill, how to take care of animals – this and lots of other advice is given to children all over Kyrgyzstan every evening when they go on a magical journey with Aktan, Akylai, their friend the donkey and their helpers – Bilimbaem, Chiykurchak, Umaykoy and the other heroes.

“At first we wanted to make a program for parents”, says Sergey Krolevich, the director of Magical Journey. During discussions, however, the idea to aim the project at young children was born.

The initiative group, which included representatives of UNICEF, experts on early childhood development and the children's editors of national television, resolved that the program should be not only entertaining, but also educational.  This is why Aktan, Akylay and the five countries of Magical Journey appeared – the Country of Knowledge, the Country of Health, the Country of Skilful Hands, the Country of Art and the Country of Magical Wonders. 

“We didn’t imagine that our project would resonate so widely in society,” says Lyra Aytimbetova, the producer of children's programmes at Kyrgyz National Television. “Children began to call the television station – we began to receive phone calls and letters every day from children and their parents."

Because of this, a child psychologist is now working full time with the children’s letters.  Each child who writes to the program, as a matter of course receives a letter in a special envelope from Aktana and Akylay, where they can find answers to their questions, advice on how to solve this or that problem, and always personal greetings from their animated heroes.

“My daughter is just 11 months old, and she still doesn’t talk, but when she hears the music of Magical Journey, she begins to wave her hands and laugh”, writes Nurjan Asanbekova from Kochkor village in Naryn Oblast.  “I found out from Umayka how many useful vitamins live in carrots, apples, beetroot and sweet pepper,” writes Munara Almazbek kyzy (6 years of age) from Karakol.  “Teach me to make puppets,” requests Janargul, (8) from Isfana town in Batken Oblast.

“My children – Ruslan (7) and Marlis (5) wait every evening for their meeting with their heroes, and all the adults in the family love watching Magical Journey,” writes Baktygul from Kokoy village in Talas Oblast.

The children write because they know that the heroes will definitely answer them, and maybe there will even be an answer to their letters in the next cartoon.  And along with the heroes, children take paper, pencils and paints, draw the magical country and think up new heroes.

Nurbolot, who also watches the programme every evening, is sure that all that happens in the cartoon is going on somewhere nearby, in a neighbouring village, because the cartoon heroes always talk about such important, interesting and well known things for all the children in the country.

The boy, like many children for whom Aktan and Akylay are heroes, dreams of becoming an artist.

In a few months, the Jamangulov family will be celebrating.  According to ancient Kyrgyz tradition, on the day when a child takes his or her first steps, guests come to the parents’ home for the “tushogosu” celebration.  Children from Tortkul will come to congratulate Aktan and bring pictures, books and toys, which they were helped to make by Aktan and Akylay, the cartoon figures.

By custom, the children will race, jump and dance.  And of course, they will all sing their favourite song from the Magical Journey cartoon together as a choir.

And the Jamangulov family have already decided that if their next child is a girl, she will definitely be called Akylai.

Olga Grebennikova
Media Liaison Officer
UNICEF in Kyrgyzstan