First President’s Day, which marks the anniversary of Nazarbayev’s first election in 1991, was a carefully choreographed pageant by some 30,000 performers in an arena in the capital Astana, including mass singing and banner-waving.
Across the country, schoolchildren and state employees held demonstrations of affection, concerts, and sports events in his honor. To what extent the participation was voluntary was unclear.
Nazarbayev has become subject of films, plays and even children’s fairytales. A university, a network of elite schools, and a city park adorned with his statue have been named after him. An imprint of his hand is incorporated into the design of the nation’s banknotes.