Turkish First Lady commissions Yunus Emre Cultural Centre

By John Okeke and Jane Okeke
The First Lady of Turkey, Emine Erdoğan, commissioned the Yunus Emine Turkish Cultural Centre in Abuja on Wednesday, as part of efforts to deepen cultural ties with Nigeria.
The commissioning was assisted by the Wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq.

In her remarks, Erdoğan said she was glad to be back in Nigeria after five years, saying that it was a great pleasure to open the Yunus Emre Cultural Center.

Erdoğan also said the Cultural Center which the Turkish government opened in friendly and brotherly countries, was a sign of the importance Turkey attached to its relations with other countries.

“With this centre, we will be opening the doors of the wisdom of Anatolia to our Nigerian brothers. As you will have the opportunity to get to know Turkish culture more closely, you will also be able to learn the Turkish Language as you wish,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan explained that Yunus Emre was an Anatolian poet sitting in the heart of the Turkish people.

“But its message is universal. His verses full of wisdom tell of human love,” the Turkish First Lady explained.
While also saying that it was a great pleasure that the message of Yunus Emre, who has left deep traces in Anatolia, has reached Abuja through the cultural centre, Erdoğan further said to date, the Turkish Government has established 62 Yunus Emre Cultural Centres in 52 countries.

“Literature, culture and art are the most beautiful tools that strengthen our ties with friendly countries.
Yunus Emre says in his famous saying, “Let’s get to know each other, let’s make things easy, let’s love, let’s be loved, the world will not be left to anyone”.

“These words, which have deep meanings in their simplicity, are the beginning of all brotherhoods.
“I wish the Abuja Yunus Emre Cultural Centre great success, and express my gratitude to everyone who contributed,” Erdoğan also said.

On the relationship between Turkey and Africa, the Turkish First Lady said the Government and people of Turkey see Africa as the rising star of the 21st century.
She added that Turkey stands in solidarity with the entire African continent so that it gets to the place it deserved.

‘The increase in the number of our Embassies in the African Continent is an expression of the deepening of our relations. While we had only 12 embassies in Africa in 2002, today we have 43 embassies. In the coming period, we aim to increase this number to 49, hopefully. The number of African Embassies in Ankara, which was 10 in 2008, increased to 37 in 2021.

‘As you know, Turkish Airlines is also adding new routes to its flights to Africa. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, flights were organised to 60 destinations in 40 countries on the Continent. With the lifting of travel bans, the number of our flights increase and we meet again at many points.

‘Our friendship with Africa has also inspired many beautiful projects that I patronise.

‘In 2016, we established the African Handicrafts Market and Culture House in Ankara. Thanks to this centre, we have created a fair market where African women can get the full value of their labour.

‘The “African Food Culture” and “African Proverbs” books that we brought to the literature were added to the library shelves as a result of our cultural rapprochement.

‘Every year, we organise special events for 25th May Africa Day and strive to contribute to Africa’s vision of a “better continent”.

‘The income from the sale of my book is also transferred to the African Handicrafts Market and Culture House. I hope it will make a meaningful contribution to our solidarity with African women.
‘Our country’s relationship with Africa is not only based on donations or grants.

‘The development and reconstruction of the continent is extremely important for the common future of the world. We are mobilising our resources for this. As part of our human-oriented, humanitarian foreign policy, we provide educational support to African countries. It is a great pleasure that the number of African students who have benefited from our country’s scholarships has reached approximately 14,000,’ Erdoğan further said.

Speaking earlier, the Head of the Yunus Emre Institute, Professor Şeref Ateş, said the Yunus Emre Institute organises its activities with the aim of furthering Turkey’s international relations.

‘Our country, which has a rich cultural background, deserves to be on the world agenda with its culture, art and cultural heritage. In this sense, culture also plays a great role in disrupting the game of certain groups that want to mobilise our country in vicious agendas and wrong perceptions.

‘In this respect, it is extremely important that Yunus Emre Institute establishes a culture-based Turkey agenda all over the world. We are aware of the heavy responsibility of the Yunus Emre Institute, which is tasked with properly representing Turkey’s thousands of years of cultural accumulation and presenting it for the benefit of humanity. I would like to express my gratitude to Her Excellency. who has always supported us in fulfilling this very important mission,’ Ateş said.
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