The Afro Turk Community

A very interesting article about the Afro Turk community in Turkey published on ibw21.org. The article written by Alev Scott was originally published on BBC.com. IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to building the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. to work for the social, political, economic and cultural upliftment, the development of the global Black community and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.

Although some estimates put the number of Afro Turks as high as 100,000. (Credit: dpa picture alliance / Alamy)

According to the article there are approximately 100,000 Afro Turks in Turkey but the community remains relatively unknown, especially outside of the Aegean area. They were originally brought to Turkey as slave families and sent to work on the cotton fields near the port of old Smyrna (modern day Izmir) in the 18th Century.

In the villages, Afro Turks are generally accepted as part of the community (Credit: Bradley Secker)

To read the story click here.

All images originally appeared on https://ibw21.org/editors-choice/afro-turks-lost-language-turkeys-african-descendant-population/ and credited appropriately.

 

 

The Sidi Project wins the SAJA Reporting Fellowship

It is with great honor that I am able to announce that this year The Sidi Project was the winning recipients of the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) Reporting Fellowship. Headquartered at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in New York City and founded in 1994, SAJA serves as a networking and resource forum for journalists of South Asian origin as well as for journalists and others interested in South Asia and the South Asian diaspora. Its mission includes acting as a resource to promote accurate coverage of South Asia and the diaspora.

This grant will allow me to continue The Sidi Project and specifically focus on the Afro-Sri Lankans during the month of September 2017. My self-funded trip in January to the town of Puttalam on the Island’s west coast produced the images you see on this site, but there are other communities on the island that I wasn’t able to visit due to time and financial constraints, who also need the opportunity to tell their story and be seen.

So a huge thank you to South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) for having faith in the project

The Afro-Sri Lankans

2017 promises to see a lot of work produced for The Sidi Project and I will begin the year by visiting the Indian Ocean’s smallest African diaspora community on the island of Sri Lanka. Whilst African slaves were taken as far as Indonesia and China by the various colonial powers the small population of Afro-Sri Lankan’s is the most eastern surviving community of descendants. Brought over as slaves and soldiers by the Portuguese, Dutch and later the British as they jostled for control of Sri Lanka, the diaspora numbers here are small but significant in the historical role that they played on the island. Studied in depth by Professor Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya the Sri Lankan ‘kaffirs’, as they are know locally, are the at the highest risk of disappearing. Its worth mentioning that the name Kaffir on Sri Lanka has no racial connotations like it does in South Africa and the Sri Lanka’s African diaspora call themselves by that name.

 

By the mid-19th century, at least 6,000 Afro-Sri Lankan’s living on the island, but today their numbers have significantly decreased. Their numbers are difficult to assess with no accurate census but it is estimated that approximately 500 live on the island today mostly around the Puttalam area on the west coast but also on the east coast near the town of Trincomalee. However, because the children of Afro–Sri Lankan women who marry Sinhalese or Tamil men are not themselves counted as being Kaffir, thousands of such descendants are less conspicuous in official records, having had their African heritage obscured, if not erased.

I have long wanted to include this small but important community and the project and will finally be able to do so in a few weeks. I will keep the website updated with news from the field.

 

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