Deniz Eke, Turkish diplomat with a soft spot for Sauti Sol reveals what inspired her to become a diplomat and how she would like to be remembered

Former Turkish Ambassador to Kenya, Her Excellency Ambassador, Deniz Eke. (George Tubei)

It may be on their deathbed, on the last day in office, last day in school or coming to an end of a flourishing career and it is time for them to pack their few belongings and bade goodbyes to friends and colleagues whom they met hoping they have left a good legacy to be remembered in their brief stay.

The Turkish Ambassador to Kenya, Her Excellency Ambassador, Deniz Eke is winding her term in office at the end of 2017 after three successful years in East Africa’s biggest economy.

And with the closure of her diplomatic work in Kenya, she goes back to Turkey full of memories, lessons, high and low moments, reflections and pondering how exactly she would you to be remembered while she was the Turkish Ambassador to Kenya.

During her term, Turkish businesses opened their stores in Kenya, democracy came of age in Kenya, East African nations including Somalia showed signs of recovery and prosperity and above all Kenya forced her to reflect inwards, helped reawaken a passion she had almost forgotten about by reminding her of aspects of her life that had grown passive and numb over the years.

She spoke to Business Insider SSA about aspects of her job she loves most and how she was able to bring two different nations closer in such a short time.

“Empathizing, I think empathy is the Key in diplomacy when I am in Kenya I have to start thinking like the Kenyans so that I can understand the Kenyans and I can find a common ground between our two countries, If you look at diplomacy as I am going to maximize my interests and I don’t care about the others that is not diplomacy. Empathy necessitates learning, learning the cultures, learning the social patterns learning the history and that requires being open, I think those are the parts I enjoy most empathizing, learning and mingling with the people, visiting different regions different cultures, the custom change I cannot imagine myself sitting in the same office all throughout my career waiting for my retirement rather than that it is more enjoyable” she said.

It was not all work and no play though for Ambassador Eke, she also found time to explore Kenya’s famous game reserves and magical scenes, further falling in love with the country and the people.

She especially fell in love with Africa's leading national park, 2017 and Kenya’s tropical island.

“Masai Mara is a favourite place and my second favourite destination is the Lamu Island, I have been there and it is beautiful, the sunset the sunrise, it has to be seen and photographed”

While in Kenya she fell in love with Kenya’s award-winning boy band, Sauti Sol and occasionally listens to their music even dancing to their new song melanin featuring Partorankings.

“I listen to Sauti Sol from time to time, I have their recent Melanin album and I like it”

“Since we read many articles, books about our profession many reports drafts decisions, in my leisure time I try to something different, when i was a teenager I started writing short stories and while I was in Kenya I reactivated that habit and now I am writing short stories about Kenya, about Africa that is pure fiction and imagination but there will be something that I will take home from this beautiful continent, I may even publish the book in my retirement ”

So who inspired her to become a diplomat and in her most trying moment who does she looks up.

“In my personal life my mathematics teacher at High School Mr Yashar Aktugo, he taught us to think, he kept telling us there is one thing that doesn’t get worn out the more you use them, it's your brain and he made a great impact he was like an elder brother to not just me but to many of my classmates, unfortunately, he passed away in a tragic accident”

The Turkish founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk whom she credits for being instrumental of where she is today as a female ambassador also inspires her in her daily work.

Maybe a classical answer but on a more wider perspective I have deep respect for the founder of our republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk because he showed to the whole world that you should never give up, when he started leading and initiating our national struggle for independence he faced many difficulties even among his comrades in Army but he never gave up, after he established the republic he gave particular to first creating a secular order, a secular system which I think is the biggest strength of Turkey even today, if we are neigbouring d (Islamic State) but our societies are not radicalised we owe it our secular system to the vision of our founding father”

“He also gave women equal rights with men because until then, the women in the Ottoman society were regarded as secondary to men, he emancipated women and so if I am here as a female Ambassador representing Turkey then I owe it first and foremost to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk”

As she winds her term in Kenya, Ambassador Eke would be happy if Kenyans remember her this way.

“(laughs) I don’t know how to answer that question without praising myself, I think if people say she was one of us that would be a good thing”


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