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Afro-Turks (Turkish: Afrikalı Türkler) are Turkish people of African Zanj descent, who trace their origin to the Ottoman slave trade like the Afro-Abkhazians. Afro-Turk population is estimated to be between 5,000 and 20,000 people. Afro-Turks are distinct from African immigrants in Turkey, which number around 1.5 million individuals as of 2017 according to state-owned Anadolu Agency.[3][4]

Afrikalı Türkler
Total population
Between 5,000 and 20,000[1] [2]
Regions with significant populations
Muğla, İzmir, Antalya, Istanbul, Aydın, Denizli, Manisa, Mersin, Adana

Denomination edit

Historically, the ancestors of the Black Turks were called Zenci (alternatively written as Zanji or Zangi in other languages), a word used during the Ottoman period for defining the people of the historic geographical region of Zanj along the Indian Ocean coast of Southeast Africa, where many Afro-Turks trace their ancestry. Many others came from Sudan, which was controlled by the Ottoman Khedivate of Egypt, in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some Afro-Turks trace their ancestry to Ottoman North Africa, such as present-day Libya, Tunisia and Algeria.

History edit

Afro-Ottoman official Hamatar Aga, 1710
Afro-Ottoman wrestler and his European opponent, 1710

Beginning several centuries ago, a number of Africans, usually via Zanzibar in the historical region of Zanj and from places such as Niger, Arabia, Libya, Kenya and Sudan,[5] came to the Ottoman Empire settled by the Dalaman, Menderes and Gediz valleys, Manavgat and Çukurova. African quarters of 19th-century İzmir, including Sabırtaşı, Dolapkuyu, Tamaşalık, İkiçeşmelik and Ballıkuyu, are mentioned in contemporary records.[6]

Chief black eunuch in the Imperial Harem in 1912.
Black eunuch of the Ottoman Sultan 1870s.

Some came from Crete following the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923. They settled on the Aegean coast, mainly around İzmir.[5] Africans in Ayvalık declare that their ancestors from Crete spoke Greek when they came to Turkey and learned Turkish later.[7] Afro-Turks living in İzmir celebrated the traditional spring festival Dana Bayramı ("Calf Festival") until the 1960s. Dana Bayramı has currently been revived among the younger generation of Afro-Turks.[6]

Ahmet Ali Çelikten was the first black pilot in aviation history.

Ahmet Ali Çelikten, a combat pilot of the Ottoman Air Force during World War I, was the first black aviator in history.

In June 2020, the Afro-Turk Association organized one of many worldwide marches for Black Lives Matter in İzmir in response to the murder of George Floyd.[8]

Geography edit

Areas with significant populations of Afro-Turks are in Turkey's Aegean and Marmara Region, especially Istanbul, İzmir, Aydın and Muğla provinces. People of African ancestry also live in some villages and municipalities of Antalya and Adana provinces.[9] Some of the descendants of the African settlers remain, mixed with the rest of the population in these areas and many migrated to larger cities.[5] Migration and assimilation make it difficult to estimate the number of Afro-Turks.[10]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Afrotürken – Im toten Winkel der Geschichte". 3 April 2017.
  2. ^ "Afro-Turks •".
  3. ^ Şimşek, Doğuş (25 July 2019). "İSTANBUL'DAKİ AFRİKALI GÖÇMENLERİN ULUSÖTESİ SOSYAL ALANLARININ ENTEGRASYON SÜREÇLERİNE ETKİSİ". Öneri Dergisi. 14 (52): 216–235. doi:10.14783/maruoneri.594943. ISSN 1300-0845.
  4. ^ "Africans in Turkey leave lasting impression on locals". 11 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "Turks with African ancestors want their existence to be felt". Today's Zaman. 11 May 2008. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2008.
  6. ^ a b "Afro-Türklerin tarihi, Radikal, 30 August 2008, retrieved 22 January 2009". 30 August 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  7. ^ Yerleşim Yerleri ve Göç: Balıkesir/Ayvalık,, retrieved 25 January 2009 Archived 18 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Yackley, Ayla Jean (23 June 2020). "Afro-Turks join global outcry over George Floyd killing". Al-Monitor. Archived from the original on 1 August 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2023.
  9. ^ "Yerleşim Yerleri ve Göç". Archived from the original on 18 February 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2009.
  10. ^ Afrika'nın kapıları İzmir'e açılıyor Archived 17 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Yeni Asır, 21 November 2008, retrieved 25 January 2009.

External links edit

  • Afro-Turk – website of the Afro-Turks' association in Ayvalık (in Turkish)
  • Sessiz Bir Geçmişten Sesler – website of a research project on Afro-Turks (in Turkish)
  • article in Today's Zaman, 25 June 2008
  • [1], article published on 27 August 2012 about the Calf Fest, the Afro-Der Association and recent developments.
  • [2], Qantara by Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere, 27.08.2012
  • [3], Turkey's little-known African community, BBC, 07-09-2016