Turkey’s first lady to roll out new book on visits to Africa

Book includes Emine Erdogan’s trips to 23 countries with Turkish president between 2014 and 2020

Yildiz Nevin Gundogmus   | 19.09.2021
Turkey’s first lady to roll out new book on visits to Africa


Turkey’s first lady this Monday will introduce her book on her travels in Africa for the first time at the Turkish House in New York.

Emine Erdogan, who wrote about her impressions and memories of her travels to Africa, is flying with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to New York on Sunday to attend the UN General Assembly.

She will introduce her book “My Travels to Africa” for the first time to spouses of country leaders, the UN, and other international representatives, as well as representatives of NGOs and foreign mission chiefs.

The book, which is dedicated to Emine Erdogan’s mother, covers the first lady’s visits from 2014 to 2020 to 23 countries, including Algeria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Senegal.

The book will go on sale in Turkey at the beginning of October, and will also be published in English, French, Arabic, and Swahili ​​by international publishers.

Before the "African Initiative" led by Turkey in 2005, she said Africa was a distant continent for many in Turkey. When Africa is mentioned, "colonialism, poverty, and hungry, thirsty children" came to mind, she said.

Africa also meant a photo album in which the shame of humanity “brought rewards to its owner. This situation changed forever with my first trip to Africa,” she said, adding that she accompanies her husband on foreign visits as much as possible.

“I pay particular attention to the problems of African women and children, and I want to be a bit of a balm for their open wounds. This desire of mine is a gift from my nation, in which I was born and grew up, who raised me, shaped me, and embroidered this culture in my bones,” she added.

She expressed hope that this book will lead to goodness, cooperation, and better cross-cultural understanding, and strengthen the bridges of friendship between Turkey and Africa.

She also underlined that before each visit, she studies the human, cultural, and social characteristics of the countries they are due to see.

The first lady often visits orphanages during her travels and said she was deeply affected by her 2015 visit to the Daryel Orphanage in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti.

“It is our duty to lessen the load of this heavy burden placed on those tiny shoulders and embrace them,” she said.

"To understand the state of humanity, one needs to witness it. For me, traveling abroad means witnessing such experiences and remembering one's responsibilities," she writes in the book.

Fair market for women entrepreneurs

During her 2015 visit to Ethiopia, she saw that the handiworks of local women were bought for $1 and then sold for much higher prices in the expensive boutiques of Western capitals.

“Those desperate women were left with a great despair,” she added.

"As a human, a woman, a wife, a mother, a child, a Muslim, and a Turk, I wanted to break the chain of this exploitation. So I immediately took action to establish a fair market for these working women in Turkey,” she said.

Three years ago they established the African Handicrafts Market and Culture House in Ankara's historic Hamamonu district to sell handicrafts by African women, and it serves as the voice of Africa in Turkey, she said.

She went on to say that African people welcome Turks like they were their own family.

“We have felt this everywhere we have gone. Because they know how Turkey's approach is different from colonialism. So the friendship between us grows deeper each day,” she added.

Book to raise money for African women, children

Emphasizing that her first visit to Somalia in 2011 was unforgettable, she said there was no need for a translator to feel the pain of mothers who lost their babies due to hunger.

Telling how she was awarded the International Women's Empowerment Champion Award at a ceremony held at Uganda Islamic University in 2016, she also said in her book that this is a new source of pride in Turkey's history of diplomatic goodwill.

"My visits to Africa could be considered a notebook in which new lines shall be added throughout my life, a book whose cover will never be closed,” she explained.

“I sincerely wish that peaceful and prosperous lines are written on the fresh pages of this notebook. I hope that what our country has achieved in Africa so far will be a way for the continent to reach the prosperity it deserves. I hope African children's faces will always smile.”

Royalties from the book will be used for development, education, and health and cultural support to African women and children through the African Handicrafts Market and Culture House. It will be a symbol of friendship and solidarity between Turkey and Africa, she added.

Every year, Erdogan participates in various international events for the development of disadvantaged groups living in Africa within the scope of the UN and meets with African first ladies and representatives of NGOs.

In recent years, Erdogan has continued to support intercultural interaction by patronizing African cookbooks and African proverbs.

* Writing by Gozde Bayar

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