Many people may be surprised when we say that environmentalism was actually around in 1930 in Turkey. Turkey’s first environmentalist lived in the Manisa Spil Mountain in the 1920s. With his passion for a green lifestyle and appearance, Tarzan of Manisa is an unforgettable and noble figure who was the first environmental activist in our country. Tarzan of Manisa took his name from one of the Tarzan films that was shown in theatres in 1934, and he has a life story that is surely more interesting than the film.
How did Ahmet Carlak Become Tarzan of Manisa?
Tarzan of Manisa, whose real name is Ahmet Carlak (or Ahmeddin Carlak), was born in Samara in 1899. He came to Iraq, where the Tigris and the Euphrates joined, saying that his name was Ahmet Bedevi (Bedouin). We can say that he experienced an extraordinary life, but all we know about him is a mixture of reality and folktale. However, based on the records, we know that he participated both in the First World War and in the War of Independence. Due to his outstanding success in the War of Independence, he won the Medal of Honour. He participated in the marches in the ceremonies by being proud of his medal that he put on a palm leaf on his chest.
During the War of Independence, the invader states had been defeated, and while they were leaving the Anatolia, they burned down everything. At that time, all the forests in the region, called Green Manisa, were burned by the escaped invader armies and the atmosphere of a disastrous catastrophe was maintained for days. Ahmet Carlak, who was passionate about greenery and nature, could not stand this event and found himself in the Spil Mountains of Manisa.
Ahmet Carlak came to the city for the first time after 1923. He just wore black shorts and an athlete top and wants to be in the forest in Manisa. In a different geography of Anatolia, in Sinop, when the famous thinker Diogenes lived in a barrel, he saw a child drinking water with a handful from a fountain, and he said, “This child taught me that I had too many unnecessary items.” and broke his bowl. Like Diogenes, when Ahmet Carlak was on the Spil Mountains, he tore his athlete, and after that date, he passed his life in a hut purified from the material which he made on the mountain, just like Johnny Weissmuller in the film Tarzan.
Tarzan of Manisa Gets a Job in the Municipality
While Tarzan of Manisa grew fruits and vegetables on the hut which he built after settling on the Spil Mountain, he also planted everywhere and endeavored to return Manisa, which was burned by the enemies, into a green environment again. However, on the contrary to the film Tarzan, he is not completely remote from the public and society. Ahmet Cavlak, whose name and reputation slowly began to be heard, started being called Tarzan of Manisa by the people in Manisa when the Tarzan movie was shown in 1934. In fact, he was called with different names too. As he lived a life like a dervish, people gave him the Hajji (pilgrim)Title.
Tarzan of Manisa, who had a very interesting lifestyle, fired artillery every day at 12:00 from around his hut, drawing the attention of local people to the mountain. He turned it into a ritual, and even when he was sick, he could not stop firing the artillery. One day when he was very sick, his friends wanted him to go to the hospital. However, as he thought that the artillery would not be fired, he did not accept this idea. His friends convinced him by saying that they would appoint someone for firing the artillery. Ahmet Cavlak, who was enshrined in the people’s memory in Manisa in a short time, was hired by the municipality. Instead of the usual municipal worker, he tried to be green everywhere in his way of working. He had already served as a gardener, so his task was to plant, replicate and protect the trees.
The Death of the Tarzan of Manisa
Tarzan of Manisa, one of the Kirkuk Turks, was a very intelligent man who had very strong relationships with people. He read many books, and he liked Turkish music, especially Turkish musician Müzeyyen Senar. Ahmet Cavlak was a movie enthusiast and did not complain about being called Tarzan. He accepted this name.
The nature lover continued his escape from society with his natural life and unique reasons until the 1960’s, when he hit hard times because of the urbanization of Manisa in these years. One day, when he saw that the trees he planted were cut to build roads and buildings, he suffered a heart attack due to sadness. He was taken to the hospital but could not be rescued. He died the next day.
The first environmentalist of our country, Tarzan of Manisa is remembered on May 31, the day on which he died. The commemoration day of May 31 is combined with the World Environment Day on June 5, so a beautiful tribute is given. Tarzan of Manisa is a hero who immortalized his name in the history of environmentalism in our country, although it has been many years since his life, love of nature, and death.