Afro-Turks are Turkish people who are the descendants of slaves from Africa. They were brought into Turkey during the Ottoman Empire or Turkish Empire (1299–1923) . Afro-Turkish writer Mustafa Olpak (56) gives the "Afro-Turks" a voice. "I am the first person who dares to say that my grandparents were slaves" In his book Olpak discusses how his African grandfather was purchased as a household slave by an Turkish family, and later moved to Istanbul after the Turkish Revolution in 1922.
Mustafa Olpak is the initiator of the African Organization for Solidarity and Cooperation, the organization has succeeded in organizing the old sacrificial feast of Afro-Turks, the Dana Bayrami, revitalization . That party had its peak between 1880 and 1920
Gülay Kayacan, who works for the History Foundation, an institute that researches and publishes articles on Turkish history, says that some of the Afro-Turks are descendents of slaves who used to work on farms or in houses. Slaves working in agriculture were concentrated in areas where cotton production was high. It is for this reason that most Afro-Turks today live on the Aegean coast and some in the Mediterranean region.
“Some 10,000 slaves, black and white, were brought into the Ottoman Empire every year. During the constitutional monarchy period (1876-1878), slavery was abolished and former slaves settled in areas where they used to work. Some of them were even given land by the government,” Kayacan says.
Some famous Afro-Turks
Hadi Türkmen, the former Turkish football federation manager
Tuğçe Güder a Turkish model who was chosen as the Best Model of the World - an international annual competition - in 2005
Update: Mustafa Olpak, the founder of the AfroTurk organisation, died in October 2016.
In 2006, Olpak founded the first officially recognised organisation of Afro-Turks, the Africans' Culture and Solidarity Society (Afrikalılar Kültür ve Dayanışma Derneği) in Ayvalık. A principal aim of the association is to promote studies of oral history of Afro-Turks, a community history of whom was usually ignored by official historiography in Turkey. Olpak's legacy and the organisation will continue.
The Turkish film Arap Kızı Camdan Bakıyor ("The Arab Girl Looks from the Window," released with the English title of Baa Baa Black Girl) discusses how his grandfather was purchased as a household slave by a Turkish family, but later moved to Istanbul after the Turkish Revolution.