"My Heart Belongs to America, But My Soul Belongs to Turkey"

HIH Prince Cengiz Hanim and his wife Suzanne Hanimefendi at their New York visit.
When he arrived at Atatürk Airport in 1960 to make a connection to his flight, his heart was about to skip a beat. He was flying to London from Cairo with a transit over İstanbul and he was going to stay in İstanbul for one night. For the first time, he was going to see the lands where his father, who had left the country with the passing of 3 March 1924 exile rule, was born, and, the city where his grandfathers had ruled. When he got off the plane and rode into İstanbul, passing The Old Walls with the Turkish flag flying above, he got emotional and could not hold back his tears.
He stayed in İstanbul for only one night. The exile remained in force for the male members of the Dynasty until 1974; however, Prince Cengiz Nazım Effendi took the risk and stayed in İstanbul for a day by using the transit as an excuse.

The second time he came was after he and his family got US passports in 1967. At the beginning, he thought, “What if they create a problem at the entrance and don’t allow us to go in.” Then, he said, “If they don’t allow us in, the worst case is that we would return.” He did not encounter any problems at the entrance. He traveled around İstanbul, which he had seen only for a day during his first visit, in a fulfilling way.
Nejla Chawky Hanimsultan, HIH Prince Bayezid Osman, HIH Prince Cengiz Nazim and his wife Suzanne Hanimefendi. (Photo by Ahmet Ze)

His grandfather Prince Mehmet Ziyaeddin Effendi (1873-1938), who was the oldest son of the 35th Ottoman Padishah Mehmet Reşad V, was a doctor and a musician, in addition to being a prince. Ziyaeddin Effendi was awarded the Nişan-ı Âli-i İmtiyaz and Prusya Kara Kartal Şövalye Nişanı medals. His father Mehmed Nazım Effendi was the first Prince to die in Turkey after the exile. He passed away in 1984 and was buried next to his grandfather in İstanbul in the Sultan Resad Tomb.

We met Prince Cengiz Nazım Effendi along with his wife Suzanne Hanım on 2 April 2015 at the Turkish consulate in New York, where he attained his Turkish citizenship after 76 years. This historical moment was witnessed by TURKOFAMERICA. The previous Head of Dynasty Ertuğrul Osman Effendi had also received his ID card personally from then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in New York in 2004. Many years have passed since the times that Prince Osman Bayezıd Effendi tells about: “During the 1940’s and ‘50’s, Turkish consulates and embassy officials used to leave the room when they would hear our name.” Cengiz Nazım Effendi and his wife Suzanne were greeted with the highest degree of respect at the consulate general. The procedure of bestowing citizenship took place quickly and was handled directly by Consulate General Ertan Yalçın. Other members of the family had been brought together on 8 March 2013 at the Turkish Embassy in London by Ahmet Davutoğlu, during his time as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Most of the family members had obtained their Turkish IDs through this meeting.

Cengiz Nazım Effendi, who was born in Cairo in November 1939 as the first of the three sons of Mehmed Nazım Effendi, the grandson of Sultan Mehmed V Reşad, who sat on the throne of the Ottoman Empire between 1909 and 1918, is the fourth oldest Prince among the Princes living today. He is quite spry despite being 75 years old. And he is so full of energy he is able to walk to Central Park from Midtown. He’s been living in the US since 1960 and attended university here as well. Having lived in Egypt until he was 20, the Prince tells that they had lived in Egypt without any problems prior to Abdülnasır but had difficult days after the coup d'etat.

When things became complicated in Egypt, he came over to the US. He was helped by a friend of his maternal family to attend university in Oklahoma. Ara Öztemel was a successful businessman doing trade between the USA and the Soviets.  After wandering around in New York for a little at the invitation of Mr Öztemel, Prince Cengiz Nazım  moved to Oklahoma to start college, and, he attended school for two years with the support of his mother, his uncle Kemali Söylemezoğlu,  and his stepfather Mithat Perin. He then attended the University of Oklahoma. While attendes the university, he delivered pizzas. He says, “Then, I got promoted and began to make pizzas. And for some time, I also worked as a cashier.” He used to go to school in the mornings and work for the rest of the day at three different part-time jobs: at Trans World Airlines, at a tourism agency, and as a pizza-guy.

At first, he wanted to be a chemical engineer. When he started working at the Trans World Airlines while in college, he thought that it would not make much sense to study chemistry and work in an airlines company, as he wanted to make a career in airline transportation. He says, “If I were to work in a job that required a college degree, it could have been any degree. I liked Political Science, so, I chose that.” He also helped his brother Prince Ziya Effendi, who is now a retired pilot from Emirates Airlines, his brother Prince Hasan Orhan Osmanoğlu, as well as his other brother Selçuk Perin who was brought to the USA but returned Turkey. However, Ziya Effendi returned to Jordan.
After finishing school, he left Oklahoma and settled in California and worked for TWA. He left the airline business in 1971 and joined a trucking company in Oklahoma. Later, he created his own business, named Texas Star Express, in Texas from scratch, and turned it into a fleet with 130 trucks. Health issues created a situation in which he and his partner needed to sell the company. This caught the attention of Epes Carriers in North Carolina. He sold the transportation firm his company Texas Star Express, which had reached 18 million-dollars revenue from zero, in 1991. At the request of the Chairman of Epes, he worked at the company in Texas, then moved to North Carolina as an executive and helped start up Epes Logistics. He was there between the years 1995-2011. He met his wife Suzanne here in 1997 and got married in 1998. When Cengiz Nazım Effendi retired in November 2011, he started a Transportation Management Company, Nazim & Associates LLC to continue working in a semi retired status. He and his wife Suzanne, who is a also in Real Estate sales, work together in this endeavor.

“Many people made positive impacts on my life in the U.S. One in particular was the Chairman of Epes Carriers, Alvin M. Bodford, who mentored and supported my role for many years. I am forever grateful to him,” Prince Cengiz Nazım says.

Prince Cengiz Nazım Effendi, who has two grandchildren, Peri Kathleen (21) and Zekeriya (19) from his daughter Ayşe (51) who was born in Oklahoma, as well as a son Ziyaeddin (48), who was born in California, still works as director editor at the Cox Cable company. Ziyaeddin Effendi, who is the third Prince living in the USA after Osman Bayezıd Effendi and his father Cengiz Nazım Effendi, is married and has not got any children. Cengiz Nazım Effendi’s mother, Perizad Söylemezoğlu, who was born in 1918, still lives in Bebek, İstanbul. His mother got married to the famous journalist Mithat Perin after getting divorced from Mehmed Nazım Effendi. In addition, the famous composer Şehrazat is also the Prince’s cousin. He also has eight step grandchildren from his marriage to his wife Suzanne Shotwell Nazım.

While talking about his emotions during his visit to Turkey after a long passage of years, he still gets excited and mentions his visit to Konya in 2013, with the invitation of then Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, to join the Şeb-i Arus ceremonies. Also, he was present in İstanbul, with the invitation of İstanbul’s Mayor Kadir Topbaş, to participate in the celebrations of the conquest of İstanbul. When we ask Cengiz Nazım Effendi, who emphasizes that his father was born in Dolmabahçe Palace but liked Beylerbeyi much more, about what he had thought when he saw traces of his grandfathers, he says, “It’s an amazing feeling. Perfect. There is nothing wrong with being proud of our ancestors. But whenever you think that ‘you’re above others’, that’s wrong. We should be humble.”  With a smile, he also mentions a memory of visiting Dolmabahçe Palace with his daughter Ayşe, and says, “We first visited Dolmabahçe, then, another palace in Paris. When she saw the palace in Paris, Ayşe commented, ‘Our palace is more beautiful.’”

He recollects that his father wanted to be buried in Turkey, and, when he is asked whether he himself has such a wish, he replies, “I feel myself belonging both here and to Turkey. I’m afraid, there is no way of burying a piece of me here, and the other in Turkey.” It will be dealt with when it happens.

When asked about what his thoughts are on the problems in the Muslim regions around the world, his answer is, “We must first explain to the world what kind of people Muslims are. I think the media has a significant fault in the explanation and understanding of Islam. Whether they’re Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, the radicals cannot represent religions. Islam is a peaceful religion. What’s the first thing in the Kuran: ‘Bismillahirrahmanirrahim.’ What’s its meaning: In the name of God, Allah the forgiving and merciful. We must be merciful people, not killers.”

Expressing that his father used to remind them that the most important thing in their life was the Turkish flag, and highlighting how they were raised in a family embracing the love of homeland and the flag, Cengiz Nazım Effendi adds, “Ottomans belong to Turkey. Not Turkey to the Ottomans.” Stating that he intends to write a book about his 75 year- long life, the Prince adds, “Starting from the first school I attended, I would like to write a book about the days in Egypt and being born at the beginning of WWII. I’ve already written one chapter. But I’m not sure whether I should write it chronologically or by flowing with my emotions. And, I’m thinking of titling the book ‘My Heart Belongs to America, but My Soul to Turkey.’”

Sultan Mehmed Resad V (1844-1918) & Kamures BaşkadınEffendi (1855-1921)
Mehmed Ziyaeddin (1873-1938) & Ünsiyar HanımEffendi (1887-1934)
Prince Mehmed Nazım Effendi (1910-1984) & Perizad Söylemezoğlu (1918-)
Prince Cengiz Nazım Effendi (1939) & Eileen (1946)
Ayşe Sultan (1964)
Prince Ziyaeddin Effendi (1966)

Prince Cengiz Nazım is married to Suzanne Shotwell Nazım.
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07