A Turkish idiom used to explain distant places associates with Fezzan, a large geographical province located in southwest of today's Libya. When someone wants to underline how remote the place where he is talking about says 'It is in Fezzan.'
Despite this perception, some historical findings tell us Fezzan is not so away from us. Reminiscent of Ottoman culture has been still found in northern Niger which is south of Fezzan. In the city of Istanbulewa, with a certain reference to Ottoman capital, Ottoman flag is waving even today.
It was known that Fezzan is the last center where Ottoman troops were able to control until the discovery of Agadez Sultanate in the south of Fezzan. The local rulers and tribal chiefs including the current leader İbrahim Umaru, claim that they are descendents of Ottoman Sultan Bayazıd. Umaru said "I am the Sultan of Agadez region. Our story goes back to centuries ago, in 1400's. A group of people from our tribe achieved to arrive Ottoman capital and meet with Ottoman Sultan. The Sultan accepted to appoint a governor to Agadez from his dynasty. The ruler came here and began to preside over tribes."
The researches to enlighten the past of Agadez region has accelerated with the work of Turkish Ambassador to Niger Hasan Ulusoy. Launching an inquiry in archives, Ulusoy believes the historical link has strategic importance for bilateral relations.
Ambassador Hasan Ulusoy said "Ottoman influence spread gradually into North Africa and Sub-Saharan regions in 16th century. But, we found some evidence demonstrating the link with Ottomans in Niger before this time. At the beginning of 15th century, the northern tribes in Agadez province, majority of which are Tuaregs sent representatives to Ottoman Sultan and asked them to appoint a local chief to govern them. All the story began with this."
Discovering these historical information from vocal resources, Ambassador Ulusoy confirmed these with secondary sources. A book written by retired Turkish diplomat Numan Hazar was one of the sources giving reference to French sources which provides information about Ottoman relations with Agadez region. "I believe the Sultan who accepted four or five representatives from Agadez asking a ruler Ottomans was the Bayazid the first. But this needs more examination." Ulusoy noted.
"The legend says the Sultan sent to Agadez one of his boys whose mother was an African. His name is Yunus. Yunus Sultan arrived here and founded the Agadez Sultanate."
We have a common past, shared historical belonging
The Agadez Sultanate is still ruling the region with the same name. The dynasty is named as Istanbulewa which means those who come from Istanbul. As in the past, the region has remained to be one of political and cultural centers of Niger.
“In every Friday praying, the names of Ottoman sultans are commemorated here. There are castles in Agadez that Ottoman Empire was forced to forsake after Turco-Italian War in 1912. Northern Niger has brotherhood relations with Ottomans, Turks. We have a shared historical consciousness which should be strengthened. I feel very lucky to be appointed a country where such kind of common memory exists. We are working for cementing this historical commonness.” noted the Turkish Ambassador.
Irem Sahin - Kuzey News Agency