Diescho’s Dictum – Lessons From Turkey – Namibia’s Most Compatible Model of Self-Development [opinion]

GAZI University in Ankara, Turkey, invited over 30 distinguished professors and heads of universities in Afrika to join the Turkish academics and local politicians in celebrating Afrika Day from 20 to 22 May of this year. Through the able efforts of the most able Turkish ambassador in Windhoek, Deniz Ccedilakar, the Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (Nipam) was included in that invitation and I had the fortuitous honour to represent Namibia at such an illustrious gathering of minds. The high discussions were about how to strengthen relations between Turkey and Afrika in the pursuit of a better humanity based upon more sound understandings and appreciation of our similarities and dissimilarities. This process, these thinkers reckon, ought to start and be buttressed by and through leaderships that distill and zero in on how common we are rather than how distant we are, or thought we were from one another.

Typical of the inquisitive me, I expressed an interest to see more of Turkey. In my Roman Catholic religious education at Andara in Kavango in Standard 4, Fr. Ludwig Von Luelsdorf, our priest, taught us about the church history in Istanbul, more from the perspective of the interregnum when Emperor Constantine the Great shifted the Roman Empire to Istanbul – when the city was christened Constantinople in 330 AD in an attempt to Christianize Asia Minor and environs, till the conquest of the Ottoman Empire in 1453 AD.

Thanks to the Turkish embassy a grand tour was arranged for me to see and experience the age-old city of Istanbul. In all honesty I did not know how Turkey in general and Istanbul in particular are the great sites of human civilization. I admitted to my esteemed tour guide how ashamed I was to discover my ignorance about something so important and so vital to not only my understanding of the world, but to enhance my own ability to be a better human being in the scheme of the shrinking global village which requires that knowledge of the world beyond our own immediate locations exponentially expands organically our worth and relevance in relation to other dwellers of this planet which we share and must look after in concert. And our worlds do come together, and are coming together even faster than we realize.

Before I get into what Turkey could mean for Namibia, let us see where Turkey is in the scheme of Namibia’s economic, socio-cultural potential and Vision 2030 grand dreams of sustainable development. By landmass, Turkey is smaller than Namibia even though its population is 33 times bigger than the total count of all Namibians alive. There is a great deal Namibia can learn from the Turkish road to democracy and stable economy, which it enjoys in Europe today.

Like Namibians were under foreign rule, the people who later became citizens of Turkey were subjected to foreign control of the Romans during the Byzantine period and later the Ottoman Empire for over one thousand years. With great struggles, modern Turkey gained its self-rule only in 1923 under the able leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatuumlrk, the revolutionary leader after whom the country is named. Atatuumlrk commanded the Istanbul War of Independence with the foresight, farsightedness and fortitude to build Turkey in the image that it has become. With independence the Turkish people went on a serious development curve, which began by intense self-definition, self-affirmation and self-direction as the Turkish Nation.

After World War I, Atatuumlrk embarked upon a nation-building journey to recreate his nation that became neither too west nor too east, but itself, in a manner that it would be self-respecting and self-sustaining, and for that matter with no illusionary grand designs to conquer the worlds that did not belong to it. Hence the shyness with which Turkey conducts its foreign policy even today. The Turks went as far as recreating, as it were, the Turkish language, which was subjected at the time to Arabic orthography and rules of writing. He turned it around and introduced the Latin script to which the modern Turkish now conforms, such that Turkish today is one of the most phonetic languages once you get over the hurdles of special characters of the alphabet and mutated vowels of the language.

Unlike the better known, or for our purposes infamous nations of Europe which stretched their colonial and imperial tentacles across Afrika and left Afrika’s inhabitants with deep psychic bruises and psychological scars, Turkey is to all intents and purposes an innocent nation – so much so that they suffer very little (racial) prejudice when it comes to Afrikans. Their agenda is self-development in the true sense of the word, compared to, say Germany that thrived on cheap ‘Tuumlrkische Gastarbeiter’ who in many ways, suffered similar dehumanization as Afrikans did at the hands of Europeans who came to develop these ‘no man’s lands’ which are now countries. The Turks toiled their land and turned it into what it is – the 6th gest economy in modern Europe, 15th in the world, with 180 universities, 104 of them state universities. Turkey had built the second largest military in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (second only to the USA Army), it is the most religiously tolerant Muslim society, and is one of the gest catchment areas between Europe and Asia. Turkey shares borders with 8 countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq and Syria. The strait that links Asia Minor to Europe stretches all across and links the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, thus making Turkey both vulnerable as a well as powerful in the economy of the new Europe. The majestic vessels and gigantic tankers that crawl along the Istanbul strait serve as lifelines between Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Greece and the Scandinavian countries, to mention but a few. Manufacturing is vibrant in Turkey as it is a more stable economy than most of its neighbours. In more ways than one Turkey is Europe’s Economic Rising Star. There are many synergies between Turkey and Namibia if Namibia is really aiming to develop durable peace in a potentially unstable region and self-reliant economy.

Back to Istanbul: My impressive tour guide was second to no tour guide I have ever encountered. In the two days of walking and riding all kinds of earth-crawling machines to get to the next wonderment, he was more patient than me. Every next stop was more interesting than the previous one, and had some connection to the rest of the story I was just told. From the Biblical times’ Roman walls to the Church of Saint Justinianus in Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) to the second oldest underground train to the engineer-miracle suspense bridges that hover over the majestic straits as if pregnant with life, to the most engulfing Spice Market to the palpable Grand Market to the enveloping Blue Mosque to the most illustrious Topkapi Palace where the sultans ruled from with style – harems of captive concubines on the upper decks of the immaculate buildings separated by horse paths and kept secure by eunuchs, especially black Afrikan eunuchs who had a higher capacity to survive the cruelty of preventive castration at age 8, with grand halls and chambers for political deliberations under the Grand Vizier who sat in counsel for the reigning sultan.

Istanbul blew my mind, as it would any Namibian from religious, historical and tourist perspectives. The history of Turkey is grappling in more ways than I even imagined: Turkey is where Tarsus is, the birthplace of Paul or Saul or St. Paul, through whose writings and letters to individuals and cities we know more about the mysteries of the New Testament Christian Church and thus the life of Jesus Christ. Even though Paul did not sojourn with Jesus and did not witness Jesus’ miracles as such, it is Paul who gave the church its definition and identity, and it is Paul who, more than any one individual on record contributed to the doctrine and tenets of the Christian church. Paul wrote to Ephesus, and Ephesus is in Turkey, and Ephesus is rumoured to be the burial place of the Virgin Mary of Nazareth. In the southeastern end of Turkey is Mount Ararat, the site where Noah constructed his Ark upon the direct instruction of God from Up High.

The Apostle John, the son of Zebedee and the last of the apostles to die, lived his last days also in Ephesus where he worked with several churches as evidenced in the Letters to the Seven Churches in Asia in the book of Revelations.

For Namibian Christian enthusiasts, check this: The Biblical great place of Antioch that housed the emergence of the Hellenistic and Judaic faiths as well as Early Christianity, and was therefore called the cradle of Christianity, is in Turkey. The Biblical rivers Euphrates and Tigris that constitute the Great Mesopotamia and which are more often than not on Christian preachers’ lips on weekends are in Turkey. No truly Christian worship service is completed without the whole congregation reciting in unison the most widely accepted and used prayer in liturgical Christian churches, the Nicene Creed, or Credo in unum Deum, I believe in One God, the Father the Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth… .! This exclamation was adopted in the town of Nicaea in Turkey during the first Ecumenical Council in 325 AD. As I mentioned before, the Ephesians were citizens of Ephesus, Turkey, the Galatians were residents of Galatia, the highlands of Anatolia, now Turkey.

Here is what killed me: At the end of a long second day of sightseeing, my tour guide, now my brother, Burcin Kahraman (Red), with an innocent twinkle in his eye suggested that I needed to see one more place, a museum room in the Topkapi Palace where the wealthy sultans reposed the rich and sacred pieces of human civilization spanning across the Old and New Testaments, Triumphal Beginnings of Islam and beyond.

In this room called the Chamber of Sacred Relics I saw the footprints and the swords of David and the Prophet Muhammad. Then he pointed to a half-lit glass covered enclosure swarmed by many museum watchers, all half bent, hands on their knees to get the best view of the items inside.

Here I saw with my own eyes The Stick that Moses used to separate the water of the Red Sea in about 1300 Before Christ. I did not know how spiritual I was, I was speechless, motionless, filled with unexplainable emotions and I felt like a child! I was finished! My guide noticed my vulnerability, and he gently led me out of the Chamber to a restaurant with an impeccable assortment of Turkish eats before we headed back to the hotel.

I must confess that the Stick of Moses sticks out for me and it is, in more ways than one, pointing to a better relationship between Namibia as the most peaceful and stable country in Afrika and Turkey, the most liberal and the Economic Rising Star in the New World Order!

Source : New Era