Esat Sezen (English text: Esat Sezan)

Born in the village of Naime in 1960, Esat Sezen’s life spans many national shifts in the nature of work and education in Turkey from the 1960s to the present. Similar to the life stories of many Afro-Turks, Sezen worked on his parent’s farm when he was a child, and he was one of nine siblings.  Sezen completed his education through primary school and then left school to help his parents. Though his father died in 1984 and his mother in 2018, many of his siblings are still alive and live in Naime.

After spending his teen years on the farm, Esat joined the military for compulsory service.  When his service ended in the mid-1970s, Sezer worked at a hotel in Izmir on the advice of his brother. He started as a bellhop and worked his way to manager.  He says that the most important element in his career in tourism was providing good service with a smile. Sezen worked in the tourism industry for nearly 30 years before retiring to Naime.

Sezen also talks at length about his family’s ties to Sudan when it was part of the eastern African slave trade.  His grandparents were enslaved and they shared memories of their captivity and experience with their children.  Sezen said that, as enslaved people, his grandparents labored in a district in western Turkey, near the Aegean sea. He elaborates on his experience as an Afro-Turk in his work and life in Turkey.

Interview notes – The interview is in two parts, and each segment runs for about ten minutes. The interview transcription is in Turkish.  The sound quality of the interview poor because the interview was conducted outside without microphones; listeners may have to boost the volume on their listening devices. There is no additional footage.

All videos are the property of Nikki Brown, the Afro-Turk Association, and 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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Esat speaking to Ayla and Beyhan
Esat pointing out various vegetables he grows
Esat smiling as he stands in Ahmet’s house
Bam listening to Esat
Group photo of the entire team, Esat on far right, Ahmet on far left

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