Sadri Hamid (English)

Sadri (Saderdin, “Sertuk”) Bäderdin ulı Hamid (Aktuk, 11.10.1905 – Helsinki 14.12.1987) was born in the Tatar village Aktuk at end of the tumultuous year 1905. Aktuk (Russian Aktukovo) or Yañı par (Yañapar), as its inhabitants preferred to call it, is located south of Nizhny Novgorod, some 18 km southwards along the road from Sergach railway station on the Moscow–Kazan line. The land is fertile black soil and the area is inhabited mainly by Tatars, Mordvinians and Russians who live in villages.

Sadri Hamid arrived in Finland at the beginning of the 1920s and kept a shop to support his family. In his free time he published the popular magazine Ak Yol / Ak Yul and wrote and published dozens of articles and books in Tatar. Sadri Hamid’s life and activities are told by his elder son Ilhan Hamid as follows:

When the adolescent Sadri, actually still a young boy, left his home village, he did not imagine that he would spend the rest of his life far away. His home and family remained back there – father, mother and siblings.

Life in the village had in many aspects turned to the worse: the once great tsarist Russia suffered from oppression and lack of safety after the revolution, not to mention drought and difficulties to acquire proper grain seeds, causing insurmountable troubles to the farmers of the productive black soil. Money had lost its value and the civil war affected the inhabitants of Aktuk, too. Supplies could be obtained – if one was lucky or suitable ”goods for exchange” could be found. Worries permeated the society.

The rails in Finland and Russia are of the same width. The railways were already developed and one could reach even the Pacific coast or Murmansk (Sadri did probably not know these areas yet). Travelling by train was considered safe, as long as the passenger carried a passport and other necessary documents. For the trip also food was necessary. Clothing was simple, like people dressed at that time: one must not draw attention to oneself, but be very careful every moment of the journey.

What did Sadri think of his future? Far away in independent Finland already lived his family’s Kulik relatives. Trusting in his God, Allah, he also decided to leave, to become an emigrant in Finland with his relatives, because the near future in his home village looked dark. The wish to live somewhere else and acquire a better life tempted him, even when he had to travel far by railway. This had already for a long time been an attractive goal.

As a young man, he wished to earn enough to survive. The village of Aktuk had been lively and stories about various places outside it were often told: “Somewhere over there, some other time and something there…” are common dreams of youth everywhere in the world. Sadri’s expectations were fairly modest, but the dream of a family of his own lived in some nook of his mind.

The dream of establishing a family of his own was fulfilled, when Sadri Hamid and Hayat Shahmayeva were married in Oulu in 1944. Hayat was a Tatar girl born in Narva. She also had relatives in Finland and had fled there by boat when the Soviet Union attacked Estonia.

The couple lived in Oulu and two sons were born, Ilhan (1945) and Balker (1948), who were educated and as adults diligently worked in demanding professions. From 1973 Sadri lived with his family in the capital Helsinki and participated in the social and religious life of his own Tatar minority. But before that…

Sadri spent the greater part of his life with his family in Oulu. At first he peddled and sold at markets in various parts of Northern Finland. Later he worked as a respected entrepreneur and was the owner of two fairly small textile and haberdashery shops.

In addition to shopkeeping, Sadri had literary pursuits and various hobbies. As a co-founder and honorary member of the Oulu philatelist club (stamp collectors, founded in 1930), he participated actively in its work for many years. In the 1960s, he was awarded with a bronze medal for a stamp exhibition in Finland and in the USA with a diploma.

Among handicrafts, working with wood and painting pictures as well as drawing were close to Sadri’s heart. He was also interested in numismatics, that is old coins from various countries. Further, he followed closely the daily news and social issues both in Finland and abroad.

Sadri is however best known as a productive self-publishing author and poet. The most popular publication is probably the magazine Ak Yol / Ak Yul (literal translation “White Road”, but the expression has several other meanings in Tatar). Sadri was its editor-in-chief between 1967 and 1977 and published a total of 63 issues.

Sadri wrote all articles by hand in Arabic script and then duplicated the sheets using offset techniques. From Germany he ordered Arabic types, which he set into printing sheets. Kirjola Oy press in Oulu took care of the printing of his publications.

The use of Arabic script was natural and also important for Sadri – this is evident from many opinions expressed in his writings. In addition to magazine production he wrote an impressive number of books and brochures on various subjects.

In Sadri’s life, the love for his own language and Tatar culture was strong. His numerous writings about his home village, its nature and life, are proof of this. His character is remembered as a true treasure chest of clever puns, poems and rhymes, and short, humorous stories.