April 23rd is a unique day in the Turkish National calendar. On that day about a century ago, the Turkish Nation declared sovereignty after being viciously attacked by some of the most powerful armies in the world.
Interestingly, the Commander General of the Turkish army during the war of independence and founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, being the visionary that he is, dedicated April 23rd to the children of the world to emphasize the fact that they are the successors of the future.
Thus, April 23rd is an incredibly joyous day across the length and breadth of Turkey. It is usually marked with colorful events and celebrations of Children all over the country. Since 1979 however, the annual celebrations became more international. Turkish state media regularly organize international Children’s festivals to mark the day. These events currently attract kids from over 50 countries. During their stay in Turkey, kids from abroad are usually hosted by Turkish families who have kids of similar ages. This allows the kids to learn about each other’s countries and cultures.
Furthermore, visiting children’s groups also participate in the special session of the Grand National Assembly and attend events to display their own cultures and folkloric games.
2021 Celebrations in Accra
This year’s National Sovereignty and Children’s day event was held at the premises of Maarif International School (MIS) here in Accra. True to the spirit of the events, the occasion was organized with the active participation of MIS’s sister school Ayabeng Memorial.
After both sets of students had taken turns to entertain the audience, which included representatives of GES, Director of Maarif Foundation, staff of both schools, parents and other invited guests, the Turkish Ambassador to Ghana, Dr. Ozlem Ergun Ulueren addressed the audience.
She highlighted the importance of the celebrations of April 23rd for the people of Turkey and gave a brief history of the events that led to that momentous day 101 years ago. She indicated that in 2019, a children’s groups from Ghana also had the opportunity to participate in the celebrations in Turkey. However, for obvious reasons, it hasn’t been possible to arrange such travels in the last two years. She stressed the Embassy’s commitment in considering more participation from Ghana once the pandemic is no longer a hindrance.
She expressed her firm belief that the opening of the Maarif International School in Accra will be instrumental in establishing perpetual links between Ghana and Turkey. According to her, the Turkish Maarif Foundation currently operates 332 schools and dormitories in 43 countries all over the world including a university in Albania. She also noted that the Foundation runs 130 schools across Africa with 64 of those in ECOWAS countries. She emphasized that the empowerment of human capital is at the heart of the vision of the Turkish Government for Africa, hence these important investments.
She concluded by reiterating the importance the Turkish Government places on its friendship with Ghana as it views Ghana as a crucial partner in the sub region. She indicated that the Turkish Government was determined to enhance its cooperation with Ghana in further areas of mutual benefit.