Turkish journalist and filmmaker Hasan Söylemez is working on "Journey to Dreams," a documentary that explores the dreams and aspirations of people from different African countries.
The idea hit him when he embarked on a tour of the African continent on his bicycle this January. He said that he is planning to cross through some 54 countries.
Söylemez said his documentary project will be a "dream archive" of Africa as he plans to shoot it throughout his journey, asking the people he comes across about their dreams.
He began his journey eight months ago in Morocco and has so far peddled more than 4,000 kilometers. After arriving in the Sahara, the world's largest non-polar desert, he traveled through Mauretania, the Cape Verde Islands, Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau, before finally arriving in Guinea.
On the road, he has already shot the first three parts of his 54-part documentary series and shared them on social media. The documentary, subtitled in Turkish and English, depicts Söylemez's adventure and talks about the different dreams African people have.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Söylemez noted that he previously edited another 30-episode documentary series "Yoldaki Haber" (News on the Road) for state broadcaster
Söylemez, who is currently back in Istanbul due to some health concerns, said that he had to take a short break but plans to continue on his journey following the medical treatment.
He said that after three to four months of preparation, he embarked on the January early this year.
"I have dreamt of this for years. As I am realizing my dream with this journey, I decided to ask people I run into about their biggest dreams for the documentary series. It will tell the story of my adventures on the road and talk about the dreams of the people I come across," he said. "By doing this, I am striving to create a dream archive of Africa."
Underlining that people's dreams can have many implications on a country's social structure, it's past, present and future, Söylemez said, "So far, the media has misrepresented Africa in so many ways. Therefore, people generally have a negative impression of the continent. Africa and its people's magnificence remain unexplored."
'Students read about my adventures in Africa'
Söylemez also reflected on the addition of his travel stories in high school textbooks, saying, "The inclusion of one part of my documentary 'Journey to Dreams' in Turkey's high school textbooks came as a surprise but it was very pleasing at the same time. When I was in high school, we used to read about Mr. and Mrs. Brown. But now, students can read about my journey through Africa in their English textbooks."
Talking about Africa's impression of Turkey, he said that Turkey is well known in the continent, especially in the Arabic speaking countries. He pointed out that Turkey's works and projects in Africa were of significant importance.
"As we go down to sub-Saharan Africa, the image of Turkey might vary in some places. For example, Turkey is known quite well in Senegal due to its relief works there," he said.
"There Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) and the Turkish Red Crescent have engaged in various humanitarian activities and the Turkish Maarif Foundation has also carried out education projects there. Therefore, the people in the region know about Turkey quite well," he added.