Afro-Turks meet to celebrate Obama inauguration


Turkish citizens with African ancestors who came to Anatolia to work on tobacco and cotton plantations in the last years of the Ottoman Empire gathered over the weekend to celebrate the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.

Afro-Turks from the districts of Ortaca, Dalaman and Köyceğiz in the southwestern province of Muğla got together to celebrate Obama’s success. They hung banners declaring “Barack Obama, we love you very much” during the solidarity event, held at Toprak Ana (Mother Earth) in Ortaca.

Turkish citizens with African ancestors who came to Anatolia to work on tobacco and cotton plantations in the last years of the Ottoman Empire gathered over the weekend to celebrate the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.

Afro-Turks from the districts of Ortaca, Dalaman and Köyceğiz in the southwestern province of Muğla got together to celebrate Obama’s success. They hung banners declaring “Barack Obama, we love you very much” during the solidarity event, held at Toprak Ana (Mother Earth) in Ortaca.

Afro-Turks from the southwestern province of Muğla gather to celebrate Obama's success and hang banners declaring "Afro-Turks love you very much."

Ali Karakuş, an executive at the African Solidarity and Cooperation Association (ASCA), noted that they established the association in İzmir to serve as an umbrella organization for Turkish citizens with African ancestors living in western Aegean provinces. He explained that there are about 20,000 Afro-Turks living in the region. “While our roots are in the African continent, we take pride in having been born and raised in Turkey and being Turkish citizens. Our forebears fought heroically against the enemy in the War of Independence. Our ancestors were brought to Anatolia from Kenya, Somalia, Algeria, Sudan, Egypt and Libya,” he explained.

He said some of their ancestors were brought to Turkey in the mid-18th century to labor in tobacco and cotton fields. “The second group arrived in the early 1900s to work on Egyptian ruler Abbas Paşa’s farm in Dalaman. When this farm was closed down, we were given free land in [founder of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk’s period,” he added.

Karakuş emphasized that they were always treated with hospitality in both the Ottoman and Republican periods. “The Africans who were taken to the UK, France, Australia and elsewhere lost their culture. But in Turkey they managed to preserve their culture because they lived as a group,” he said.

He said Afro-Turks were very happy about Obama’s election in the US. “We hope Obama will bring peace to the world. I hope the US view toward poor people around the world will change with Obama. We believe that Turkey will have friendly relations with the Obama administration. We also expect him to visit Turkey. We will invite him to Muğla. If he comes, we will sacrifice animals and welcome him,” he said.

20 January 2009

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: