Thursday, December 22, 2011

Photo book: Black people in Turky - "Afro Turks"

In 2010 Dutch-Turkish Photographer Ahmet Polat published his photo book AFRO TURKS. It was the end of a project documenting Turks of African descend, who live in the region of Izmir. He had been working on this project since 2006.

In May this year Ahmet Polat presented his newest publication on the Afro Turkish community at gallery Liefhertje in The Hague.

On his blog he writes: "Together with Erik Vroons, a Dutch visual anthropologist who joined me in 2009, we started a research using archival, private collected images and interviews.

With this work we’ve created an exhibition and an online publication with the aim to create more attention and a better understanding of this ‘forgotten history’. At the same time we hope to give a better insight into the diverse and complex history that resides within the Turkish Republic."

Photo of Ahmet Polat: Melik's father is wrapping the virginity belt on his daughters waist.

Check out some his great photos of Afro-Turkish people.
Afro Turks no 1, Afro Turks no 2, Afro Turks no 3, Afro Turks no 4

A video about Afro-Turks

A video of Afro-Turkish Jazz singer Melis Sökmen where she refers to her African heritage

Read the article Afro-Turks


  1. This is a very interesting topic. I was unaware of a significant Afro-Turk community in Turkey. I feel like going over to meet them! Thank you for expanding my knowledge!

  2. My kids are Afro-Turkish-German! I would love to have the book and thank you for making it!

  3. Anonymous and anonymous, thanks for the compliments.

    And I am sure you already found out I didn't make the book, but it’s good to see that the posting was informative.

  4. Greetings,

    I wasn't aware that there were Afro-Turks.
    From now on, I'm not going to be surprised to learn that there are people of African descent everywhere in the world. I could blame the White European centered school system for my ignorance. But with the internet, there's no excuse to stay ignorant about the presence and cultures of Black people worldwide.

    To help raise awareness about Afro-Turks, I published a post on my blog: Focus on Afro-Turks

    (I gave a hat tip & a hyperlink to this post)

    Thanks again!!

    -an African American sista

  5. I read about Afro Turks some months ago and was suprised. Few people know about them

  6. Hi guys, my family are of afro turkish decent and i would love to learn more about our history but it is so hard to know where to start. the only information we have is through word of mouth. any advice on how i could find out more would be greatly appreciated. sid

  7. Anonymous, contact photographer Ahmet Polat, he has done extensive research on this subject so I am sure he can help you out. Good luck!

  8. Ben Yunanistan Türklerinden'im, bir seyahat sırasında Trakya'da yaşayan Afro-Türklerin yaşadığı koyleri ziyaret ettim, bu insanlar Afrika kökenli, Türkce konuşan müslümanlar.
    Musafirperver çok cana yakın kisiler!!!!eğer yolunuz düşerse mutlaka ziyaret edin.
    Ve Turk azınlık olarak Yunanistanda yasamak zorsa( ki ben buna gayet iyi biliyorum)aynı zamanda afrikalı olmak ne kadar zordur acaba?????

  9. İ m a Turk of GREECE, i had meet a a villages with Afro-Turks on north Greece on a trip I made couple of years ago, those people are people with African roots, Turkish Muslims and they do speak Turkish.
    I had a great time with them douse they had been treading me like a brother!!!!
    If it s kind of difficult being Turk in Greece, can u imagine how difficult is to be an Afro-Muslim-Turk????

  10. Montecristo, thanks for sharing your experience.

  11. Wow. This is so interesting. Everyone says there's no blacks in Turkey, but I was starting to wonder since all of my Turkish Teachers ask me if I'm a Turk. Very interesting topic to look into. :)

  12. There are people of AFrican descent everywhere in the middle east, including Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Saudi, you name it.

    1. Thanks for assuring us that "There are people of African descent everywhere in the Middle East, including Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Saudi", Anonymous! This really makes me feel inspired! I am doing research (just for my personal enjoyment) on the African Diaspora in the places you named, and was becoming a little frustrated on the lack of books on the subject.

      There is a world-renowned Black Kuwaiti group called "the Miami Kuwaiti Band", composed of a family of Afro-Kuwaitis. They perform throughout the Middle East, Europe, North America, everywhere. The first time I saw them perform on TV I was hooked! I was put in some kind of spell! I couldn't understand the Arabic, but the EMOTIONAL singing and instruments really blew me away. Since then I have tried to find everything I could on sub-Saharan Blacks in the Middle East---including the territory we call Palestine.

    2. Here is a link to the Miami Kuwaiti Band.

  13. I've said it before and I'm going to say it again TURKEY IS NOT IN EUROPE.
    Not matter how hard they try, you can't deny Geography.
    Look where there borders are!.

    Turkey is in the MIDDLE EAST.

    Stop pandering to there ambitions!


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