Calf Fest (Calf Festival or Dana Bayramı) is an annual spring festival celebrated by Afro-Turks (or Turks of African origin) to raise awareness of international migration in Istanbul.
Afro-Turks are descendants from Niger, Sudan, Libya and Kenya and are said to have migrated via Zanzibar to Turkey during the 19th century Ottoman Slave trade in the 19th century.
Currently a large population of Afro-Turks are based in the Aegean but the exact numbers are not know during to several integrating with the rest of the population. Famous British painter Tracey Emin identifies as an Afro-Turk (Her grandfather is Sudanese).
Calf Fest by Mert Çakır
The events at the 2012 Cal Fest was captured in a series of images by Turkish photojournalist Mert Çakır. The description states,
“Afro-Turks are descendants of those who came to Anatolia via slave trade or other means. Nowadays, not many things are available, belonging to the region where they came from, except for the skin color. The people who settled in Aegean and Mediterranean regions and adopted their cultures for hundreds of years may face problems just because their skin is black. Those who say that they haven’t encountered any problem are the one who have not left the town, neighborhood, in short local places they live. As we stated, it’s quite hard to mention about the customs that people of African origin brought today’s world; nevertheless, a wind from the past covers all around and brings them together. This wind is “Calf Fest” which is defined as a ritual for welcoming the spring.”
View some of the images below: