Mustafa Bal, a resident of Kalfat village in Çankırı province of Turkey, is proud of Boris Johnson becoming the British Prime Minister.
No, Bal is not a closet Tory. He happens to be a fellow tribesman of Johnson, whose great grandfather — Ali Kemal — was born in this village. “This family has members that can lead the world. This honored us and made us proud,” Bal told Demirören News Agency of Turkey.
According to Bal, Kalfat residents called Johnson’s family “Sarıoğlangiller,” meaning the sons of the blonde ones. “Boris Johnson’s blondness comes from that family,” he said.
Johnson’s great grandfather Kemal was a minister in the Ottoman Empire government and was murdered during the Turkish War of Independence in 1922.
Kemal was a liberal politician, a journalist and a cosmopolitan man. While visiting Switzerland, he fell in love with an Anglo-Swiss girl, Winifred Brun, and later married her in London. The couple’s son, Osman Wilfred Kemal, was brought up by his English grandmother Margaret Brun because Winifred died after child birth and Kemal left for Turkey. Osman — Boris Johnson’s grandfather — took Margaret Brun’s maiden name, Johnson, and was called Wilfred Johnson.
Satilmis Karatekin, another resident of Kalfat village, claims to be a distant cousin of Boris Johnson. “For us, he is a Turk from Kalfat, and we will always consider him one of us,” Karatekin told The National. “He’s a great source of pride for us.”
However, Johnson seems to have little love for his Turkish tribesmen. He had once warned about millions of Turks flooding the UK if Turkey joined the European Union. But Johnson’s anti-immigration views do not put off his Turkish tribesmen.
Omer Karaagac, a former district mayor, who had met Johnson’s father when he visited the village 11 years ago, does not take Johnson’s provocative views seriously. “Politicians sometimes say things for the wrong reasons but that does not change how we feel about Boris,” he said.
In 2016, when Johnson visited Turkey as foreign secretary, residents of Kalfat village said they would be more than happy to welcome him by sacrificing sheep in his honour.
“We will sacrifice many sheep in Boris’s honour. We will repave our roads, repaint our buildings. We will give him the complete red carpet treatment if he visits his ancestral village,” Adem Karaagac, the village headman, told Middle East Eye.