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02/14/2023

South African aid for earthquake victims in Türkiye

South African aid for earthquake victims in Türkiye

Earthquake is a sudden shaking of the ground caused by the passage of seismic waves through Earth’s rocks. Seismic wave, vibration generated by an earthquake, explosion, or similar energetic source and propagated within the Earth or along its surface. On 17 August 1999, a catastrophic magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck Kocaeli Province of Turkiye, causing monumental damage and 18,373 deaths. Named for the quake’s proximity to the north-western city of İzmit, the earthquake is also commonly referred to as the 17 August Earthquake. Another a catastrophic magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck southern cities in Turkiye in 2023. More than 32.000 people have been killed and tens of thousands injured after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Türkiye on Monday.

Earthquake terribly affected Turkish citizens of Southeast Anatolian provinces that felt the earthquake intensely.

Earthquake in Türkiye February 2023

On the 6th of February 2023, Türkiye woke up with an earthquake. Thousands of people lost their lives while the earthquake that affected the southeast coast of the country and flattened the cities. In the earthquake with an approximate magnitude of 7.8, not only the houses, but also the 2200-year-old Gaziantep castle from Byzantine time and the first mosque of Anatolia, the Habib-i Najjar Mosque of Mamluk Sultanate in Hatay, were destroyed. The Republic of Türkiye immediately declared a state of emergency in the earthquake zone. Algeria, Pakistan, and Azerbaijan were the first countries to send aid however many of them including Japan, German, Greece, Armenia and Israel also have helped. In this tragedy, one of the countries that sent aid to the earthquake was South Africa. Numerous organisations in South Africa shared their sadness for the earthquake victims in Türkiye.

Historical past between South Africa and Türkiye

Despite the geographical distances, South Africa has a solid historical background with Turkey that dates back to 1850s. The scholars sent by the Ottoman State to educate the local people in South Africa lie in the Tana Baru and Mowbray Cemetery. Today, the Bo-Kaap Museum is in fact the house of one of these Ottoman scholars, Mahmud Fakih Efendi.

South African Muslims have not forgotten this friendship. The records we have reveal that the Muslims of South Africa sent aid to the Turkish army for fighting against the Italian occupation in Libya in 1912. The document in which South African Muslims supported the Ottoman Caliphate by waving the Ottoman flag in Cape Town Mosques during the First World War is situated in the Pretoria National Archive. Rusti Attaullah, the first Coloured pilot of South Africa, went to Istanbul with his brother Fuad Attaullah and fought against the Western powers in the Ottoman army.

Hearing that there was an earthquake in Turkey, South African Muslims collected donations and sent money to Istanbul through the Ottoman consulate general in Johannesburg. Pilot Rusdi Ataullah Bey was the organizer of one of these aids in 1939.

After the war, Rusti returned, and later as the head of the South African Muslim Community, he had collected and sent donations to Turkey for the earthquake victims in 1939. When Hajje Musa Adem from Durban died in 1948, he left all his legacy to Turkish Aid Organization, Kızılay. South African Muslims did not remain indifferent to the relations which the Ottoman State started in 1852.

On the 6 February, a major earthquake occurred in Türkiye. The cities of Hatay, Kahramanmaraş, Mersin, Malatya, Adana, Sanliurfa, Adıyaman, Gaziantep, Elazığ and Diyarbakır experienced the earthquake. Not only Türkiye, but the whole world shared the pain of the Turkish nation by offering their condolences. The institutions of the Republic of Türkiye, namely Kızılay and Afad, carried out search and rescue activities in the region. Non-governmental organizations such as Ahbap and Akut also supported large-scale search and rescue efforts.

Gift of the Givers to head to Turkiye after devastating earthquake. The organisation’s search and rescue teams as well as medical teams with specialised equipment are currently in Türkiye to provide aid following the devastating earthquake on Monday.

In South Africa, Gift of the Givers delivered their aid to Turkey through the assistance of Turkish Embassy and Turkish consulate in South Africa. The team went to the earthquake area and established a mobile hospital in Hatay. Imtiaz Solomon is still helping earthquake victims in Turkey with his special team.

Natural disasters such as earthquakes are undoubtedly one of the most terrifying calamities that humanity has faced throughout history. Although they affect people deeply, they are also important in terms of reminding human solidarity.

Halim Gençoğlu

Historian Halim Gençoğlu is the author of four books and several articles in African Studies. He was born in Türkiye in 1981. After his Bachelor's degree in Historical Studies, he completed his second Master’s degree in Religious Studies and Doctoral Studies in Hebrew Language and Literature at the University of Cape Town. Dr Gençoğlu continues his academic research as a postdoctoral fellow in Afro-Asian Studies and contract staff in African Studies at the University of Cape Town.

3 responses to “South African aid for earthquake victims in Türkiye”

  1. Nazlie says:

    well done. I’m proud of you. May you be guided and protected IÀ.

  2. Nazlie says:

    well done

  3. Ragiema Hay says:

    We are extremely heartsore for our fellow human beings for their suffering.
    We pray the Almighty Allah ease the pain of all the inhabitants of Turkey and Syria and all who have lost loved ones and their personal belongings.
    We support Gift of the Givers and salute all the volunteers.

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