Ayşe Ürümlü (English text: Ayse Urumlu)

Interview recorded on May 18, 2019

Interviewer: Ayla Yackley

Ayşe Ürümlü was born in 1932, though she is not certain of the exact date. Ürümlü was born in the tiny village of Tulum, which currently has about 200 residents. It is located roughly 60 minutes outside of Izmir.  Ürümlü has lived in Tulum her entire life, and still resides there in her home.  She is often helped by neighbors who look after her and take her to the hospital and the grocery store. Throughout the interview, Yackley refers to Ürümlü as Ayşe Teyze, which is an honorific given to women who are elders in the community. Though it literally means “Auntie Ayşe,” it is a term of respect when speaking to one’s social elders.

Ürümlü’s life as an Afro-Turk has seen a number of successes and tragedies.  She married a white man from the neighboring village of Erdine, and together they raised sheep and goats. He died unexpectedly after 10 years of marriage. They did not have children. After her husband’s death, Ürümlü labored for a few years as a farmworker, picking cotton, fruits, and nuts in the farmland districts just outside of Izmir.  She was hired as the chief cook at the company cafeteria, where she spent many decades. She was known throughout the company as an excellent chef.

In this interview, Yackley and Ürümlü speak at length about race and color in Turkey.  Though her husband was white, she says that she didn’t feel much racial discrimination in her life.  She and her husband lived in a small village, and their social bonds were close. The importance of Mustafa Olpak and the Afro-Turk Association was also a topic of the interview.

In the third and fourth parts of the interview, Ürümlü speaks to the issues of getting older and the physical troubles she has had getting around. Though she still lives alone, she has a medical aide who sits with her for at least eight hours every day. She also tries to attend the annual Calf Festival, organized by the Afro-Turk Association.

Interview notes – The interview was recorded in four parts, each about 10 minutes long. There are two additional recordings which are listed below. One recording is the same as above from a different angle, and the other is a brief conversation between Ürümlü and Yackley. The interview transcripts are in English.

All videos are the property of Nikki Brown, the Afro-Turk Association, and AfroTurks.createuky.net. They may be used or reproduced for educational or academic research and scholarship purposes. For other commercial purposes, access and use require the expressed written consent of Nikki Brown and the Afro-Turk Association. Before using the interviews for research, educational, or commercial purposes, please email Nikki Brown for more information.

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Ayşe Ürümlü with picture of self, November 2014
Ayşe Ürümlü sitting for her interview
Ayşe Ürümlü and her friend during the inteview
Members of the interview team, Ayşe Ürümlü, Members of the interview team, Ayşe’s friend, Bam Willoughby, Ayla Yackley, and Beyhan Turkkollu
Ayla Yackley and Beyhan Turkkollu interview Ayşe Ürümlü
Ürümlü speaking with Yackley and Turkkollu
Ayşe Ürümlü in November 2014
The interview team: (from the left) Ayla, Esat, Beyhan, Ayse, Bam, unnamed friend of Ayse, Ahmet, Sakir
Selfie group shot, Ayse interview. Team members and Nikki Brown (far left)

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