Yunus Emre and Es’kia Mphahlele – 'The Pen is Mightier than the Sword'

16 November 2021

The year 2021 has been declared as the “Year of Yunus Emre” by UNESCO commemorating the 700th anniversary of the celebrated poet.

The Yunus Emre Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa organised a tree planting ceremony at Seshegong Secondary School in Olievenhoutbosch, Tshwane and named it the 'Yunus Emre Friendly and Memorial Forest in South Africa.

“The Institute aims to create a healthy friendship between Turkey and South Africa in its activities. The forest was a gift from the people of Turkey tothe  people of South Africa,” said Abdülaziz Yiğit, Director at the Institute.

Present at the tree planting were Ambassador Ayşegül Kandaş of Turkey to South Africa, Ambassador Kanat Tumysh of Kazakhstan to South Africa, HRH Princess Swati Dlamini Mandela, embassy officials, representatives of Turkish institutions, teachers and students of the school.

In her address to the students Kandaş introduced the Turkish folk poet Yunus Emre's philosophy, which embodies love, tolerance and peace as its motto.

Pointing out that Turkey aims to plant 7 billion saplings by 2023 with the slogan "Breathe to the future, breathe to the world", Kandaş said to the students, "As the young people who are the future of your country, please do not neglect to protect your trees, forests and soil. Plant at least one sapling in your lifetime.”

She invited the young students to visit Turkey and see its forests in the future."


To further deepen understanding between the people of South Africa and the people of Turkey, a conference connecting the great South African writer and philosopher, Es’kia Mphahlele and the Sufi mystic and poet Yunus Emre was held at the Institute in Johannesburg on 13 November.
Pictured (l-r) Prof Muxe Nkondo, Ambassador Ayşegül Kandaş, Dr Mustafa Mheta and Abdülaziz Yiğit

Invited speakers Prof Muxe Nkondo, UNISA Council Member and Dr Mustafa Mheta, Senior Researcher enlightened guests of the significance of the work and the profoundness of their thoughts on human behaviour and relationships.

Narrating poems of Yunus Emre and about Es’kia Mphahlele, Ambassador Ayşegül Kandaş reaffirmed the message of the adage – ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’.