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African Turks

African Turks

The Eunuchs of the Ottoman Empire . . .
I knew about their existence,
yet not much else as far as their lives.
I had my early schooling in Turkey,
yet very little had been taught to us.

Decades later, I learned a name:
Mustafa Olpak, a writer and activist.
“Dana Bayramı” was one tradition
African Turks held on to
in order to remember their history.

They were not at all small in number.
Not that such statistics would matter!
Some were held as slaves,
others endured the fire and ascended
into rank inside a powerful empire.

Their descendants are alive.

Power structures come and go.
That is the call.
One day, they all fall.
What then happens to their oppressed?
Cultural accounts will and do talk.

As a Turkish woman, I am in despair.
For this shame, there is no repair.
Going through all kinds of emotions,
I am desperate to spread the word,
for whatever it is worth.

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 2.1.2020

Related Readings:
~ Mustafa Olpak
~ “Dana Bayramı”: “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 (Wikipedia).”

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Filed under Poetry, Reflections