Oppressed Peoples Online Word...The Voice Of The Voiceless

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Comment by Bilal Mahmud المكافح المخلص on August 12, 2019 at 1:13pm
Comment by Bilal Mahmud المكافح المخلص on August 12, 2019 at 1:43pm
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Turks of African descent have celebrated their culture and history with a two…
Comment by Bilal Mahmud المكافح المخلص on August 12, 2019 at 2:11pm
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Muslim American Islamic scholar Dr. Sulayman Nyang, passed away on…
Comment by Bilal Mahmud المكافح المخلص on August 13, 2019 at 4:37pm
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In the late 19th century the slave trade from Africa towards the Ottoman…
Comment by Bilal Mahmud المكافح المخلص on August 13, 2019 at 4:41pm

The majority of Afro-Turks live along the Aegean coast
“Along the Aegean coast, I have met at least 2,000 persons with black skin colour in recent years“, explains Mustafa Olpak during a visit to an Afro-Turkish family in the village of Yeniciftlik (New Farm). At the end of 2006, Olpak founded the first association of “Afro-Turks” in the North Aegean city of Ayvalik. Olpak was born in Ayvalik, but the way his ancestors arrived there, was rather untypical compared with other Afro-Turks. As he writes in his autobiography “Slave Coast”, his great-grandparents were deported from Kenya and sent as slaves to the then still Ottoman island of Crete in the 1890s. In Crete the family became Muslim and worked in the household of a rich Ottoman family. After the Turkish War of Independence, in 1924, Turkey and Greece negotiated a population exchange of Orthodox Christians and Muslims, and Olpak’s family had to leave Crete and was deported to Ayvalik. Olpak grew up there, finished school and married a white Turkish woman, with whom he was together for 25 years until her family said “There should not be any inheritance left to the Arab.” Blacks are often called Arab in Turkish. After this, Olpak filed for divorce. However it was not the only racist comment or discrimination he experienced in his life. Many Afro-Turks have much lighter skin, becauseblack women especially look for white partners to reduce the discrimination for their children that they experienced themselves.

Full article:  http://www.theglobaldispatches.com/articles/afro-turks?fbclid=IwAR2...

Comment by Bilal Mahmud المكافح المخلص on August 13, 2019 at 5:37pm

Afro-Turk association: traditional Calf-Festival and oral history projects
However, the Afro-Turks also insist that they belong to Anatolia as much as other peoples. They speak the local dialect, wear traditional Turkish clothes and are usually well-integrated into the local Turkish cultural life: “We have been living in this region for at least 150 years and we don’t have any other homeland,” says Olpak.

After his divorce, Olpak moved to Izmir where the main office of his association is located, an association which strives to preserve the heritage of this neglected minority and to heighten general awareness of their situation. As of 2007, the organization has revived the traditional “Calf-Festival”, which had been celebrated by Afro-Turks from the 1880s until the 1920s. Deniz Yükseker of the private Koc University explains the background of the festival: “Leaders of the Afro-Turk community, known as ‘godya,’ used to collect money in order to buy a cow. On the first Saturday of May, they sacrificed this cow. Failing to make this sacrifice would cause droughts, according to popular folklore.” At that time the festivities lasted three weeks, in Republican times this tradition was gradually abandoned until it was revived in 2007. The modern version of the Calf-Festival only lasts for one week-end and so far no animal has been sacrificed, but it is a rare opportunity for the Afro-Turks from different provinces to come together and share ideas. To that end, buses are organized to bring the Afro-Turks to the festival. Mustafa Olpak remembers the bus trip in 2007 from Izmir to Ayvalik: “We had two buses full of black people. Outside of Izmir we were stopped by the police who thought we were illegal refugees. When the police realised that all the travellers were Turkish citizens, we were allowed to continue.”

During its four years of existence, the members of the association have been quick to learn how to deal with the press. When US President Barack Obama visited Turkey in April 2009, the association asked for an official meeting. As Olpak explained: “It was clear to us that we would be very lucky to be given an appointment, but we were able to use his visit to bring attention to our cause.” Olpak has succeded in raising awareness of the Afro-Turkish community through other initiatives too. His book was turned into a documentary by the state-run TRT television channel and well-known publisher Osman Köker organized an exhibition about the Afro-Turks. Through this a wider audience could be reached in the big cities of Turkey.

Besides the organization of the Calf-Festival, which will be celebrated again in May 2011 in Izmir and Bayindir, another focus of the association are oral history projects. And these have even caught the attention of the Turkish Ministry of Culture after the project “Voices of a speechless past” was completed with EU support, for which 100 Afro-Turks were interviewed. Such projects are urgently needed, because so far there is very little material relating to the fate of Ottoman slaves and their descendants.

Image © Afro-Turk Association

Image © Afro-Turk Association

… and the third generation researches
The association does also provide practical help, such as support with coal and wood in the winter or school uniforms and shoes for the children. Many Afro-Turks live in poverty, be it in the villages or in the cities they have moved to. There are very few Afro-Turks who have been to university or who hold prestigious positions in politics, sports, culture or private industry. That is why there are few role models for the young generation of Afro-Turks apart from a few notable exceptions like the former Mayor of Dalaman, the singer Esmeray and the football functionary Hadi Türkmen.

Mustafa Olpak begins his book with “The first generation experiences, the second denies and the third researches.“ The Afro-Turks of the third generation have started to research their exceptional history. Through this, the Anatolian mosaic is gaining another colourful tile.

Comment by Bilal Mahmud المكافح المخلص on August 14, 2019 at 1:59pm
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Anadolunun en renkli kültürlerinden olan afrikalı türklerin, geçmişten bu güne…

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