Late Ustadh Odina Muhammad Mirzo of Tajik Badakhshan:  Interesting and wonderful Life Accounts and Important Contributions to Wakhiyology

February 5, 2024

By Fazal Amin Beg

This small contribution  is focused on late Odina Muhammad Mirzo (Odinamamad Mirzo)  of Tajik Baadakhshan, a Government professional of the Soviet era and today’s Republic of Tajikistan. It deals with his family, kinship, descent groups, interesting life accounts  and academic contributions on Wakhan and adjacent areas. He also compares his societies and development in historical and contemporary context as an important observer and experiencer.

It was back in August 2015 when I got an opportunity to meet and know about late Odina Muhammad Mirzo of Namadgũt, Gorno-Badakhshan, who had come to Hunza to participate in an international symposium on Wakhi people and Sustainable Development. This program was organized by Global Mountain Forum and I learned about this forum for the first time in my life. It was thus this occasion, I thought to explore and understand about some aspects of the life struggles and some realities pertaining to late Odina Muhammad Mirzo  and the related landscapes  of his region in different contexts within anthropological realm (family, kinship, marriage, descent groups, toponyms, life accounts and so on).

Late Ustadh Odina Muhammad Mirzo had a wonderful personality. Initially, when I met him and I tried  to develop rapport withim during an evening meal while together. After my formal and honest introduction, I thought he may get opened gradually   but he was reserved . Despite the fact he observed and found me a visually disabled, he was sceptic that I may belong to any secret intelligence agency of Pakistan (which he honestly disclosed the next day and was open to share the related information with me about his life account and academic contributions). 

Ustadh Odina Muhammad Mirzo was born in October 1936 in  Namadgũt, the first settlement of Wakhan and an important historic place of Ishkoshim district of Tajik Badakhshan.  His father’s name was Mirzo and his mother’s name was Maydek. His mother was from Ran and a Rini speaker within the Pamiri language family. Late Odina Muhammad has a brother named Akbar Shoh and two sisters named Bibi and Nabot.  He got married with … of Jarub-e Awlod of Vrang in upper Wakhan. Late Odina Muhammad has five children (three sons and two daughter). Names of his sons are Mirzo, Ahmad Jon and Muso; while his daughters are Mavjuda and Shukufa (married in Namadgut and Vrang respectively). All his children are married and have children, too. 

We need to understand that there are different descent groups (Kũtor in Wakhi) in Namadgũt. They include Qarawũl Awlod,  Shadod Awlod,  Ma’ruf Awlod, Gado Awlod, Dod Mamad or Jabor Awlod,  and the like. Late Odina Muhammad Mirzo belonged to Qarowũl Awlod.   His lineage from male line follows in this manner. Odina Mamad son of Mirzo  son of Mamad Safo son of Maram Big son of  Mullo Qarowũl son of  Mamad Safo son of  Mamad Wafo son of Mullo Qarowũl (I).

Late Odina Muhammad Mirzo got his early education from Namadgũt and for the secondary level education, he moved to Khorugh (the capital of Gorno-Badakhshan). He thus finished his secondary education  in 1955 during the rule of Stallin  in the former Soviet Union. Late Odina Muhammad then served for a year in the post office of his village and would distribute the letters, parcels and newspapers to the concerned people in the settlement. 

Leaving his job with the post office,  Late Odina Muhammad Mirzo left for pursuance of his higher education. He joined the National University of Tajikistan at Dushanbeh  (Donishgoh-e Milli-e Tojikiston) and got admission in Biology. He studied the course for five years and successfully completed it .He then returned to his area and became a teacher in 1962.He taught for seven years (up to 1969) and then joined and served the Planning Department of the Soviet Government for ten years (from 1970 to 1980) in Ishkoshim District (Rayon). Afterwards, he rejoined  his teaching profession and taught for seven years again from 1980 to 1987 in Namadgũt.

It is important to note that it was the year 1987 when Late Odina Muhammad Mirzo became Rayyis-e Itifoq-e Kassaba or Profssayuz in Russian (perhaps roughly as Head of the organization for the rights of workers for a year or so). He then joined his teaching profession again in 1992/93.  When he became 60 years, he got retirement from his formal employment.  He didn’t stop and his energism in life continued. There was no experienced teacher of Chemistry in the area, his services was thus sought again. Late Odina Muhammad Mirzo therefore taught in the school for ten years more up to 2005 in addition to fourteen years of his earlier contribution. Late Odina Muhammad  was then chosen as the Head of the Settlement called Muysafid-e Qishloq. He lead his community for over ten years. It was this time when a Museum (Osorkhonah) was also established in Namadgũt near the ruined Qaqa Fort of the village. Late Odina Muhammad was thus given formal responsibilities to take care of the fort and other related archaeological sites , which he served with dedication for the next decade as Head of the Namadgũt Museum.

Let’s specify and highlight now a bit of his qualitative research and academic  activities. Although, late Odina Muhammad Mirzo has diverse  experiences in different walks of life, we could see his main contribution falls in the Government jobs and community initiatives in teaching, planning and museum. His acquired knowledge, professional and voluntary experiences  embedded him to be inquisitive and contribute in academic domains based on research. When Late Odina Muhammad was 70 years of age, he is witnessed to contribute a book on the indigenous plants and pathological Knowledge of Wakhan in Russian, Tajiki and English. Late Odina Muhammad also contributed a book on Namadgũt, his settlement. Besides, he has also written a book on the Wakhi community of Wakhan pertaining to the people, history, culture and language.  In addition, he was seen determined to write a book on Salomat Shoh of his region , who has reportedly served his community and the Government on three ministerial positions.

Although, late Odina Muhammad Mirzo is no more in this world with us today and lives in his permeant abode in the heavens, his academic and voluntary contributions to his community and humanity will always be remembered by the current and future generations. He is even alive today in terms of his audio and video interviews or otherwise. May God bless his soul with eternal rest and peace and bestow upon him a highest level of elevation in the paradise.

Presentation and copyright: @Adabiyot-e Gulshan 2024

Interviewer: Fazal Amin Beg on August 30, 2015

Interviewee: Late Ustadh Odina Muhammad Mirzo of Namadgũt, Tajik Wakhan of Badakhshan

Photo credits: Vatani Alidodov of S̃hergin and Mavjuda Mirzoeva daughter of Odina Muhammad Mirzo  of Namadgũt

Special facilitation by: Nakubakht Bairambekova of Namadgũt

Editing: Mazdak Jibran Beg of Gulmit


FaceBook Page: FazalAminBeg

Twitter: @fazalaminbeg

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