Opinion: Turkiye brand of patriotism and lesson from the media summit

Opinion: Turkiye brand of patriotism and lesson from the media summit
Participants at the Turkiye-Africa Media Summit 2022. [Photo: Japheth Ogila]

Last week, Turkey held a two-day summit to brainstorm African ties with the Ankara administration. The Istanbul summit, dubbed Turkiye-Africa Media Summit 2022, brought together tens of African journalists, media managers, and top tier Turkish government officials who deliberated on the status of the bilateral relations.

On May 25, 2022, Turkish Communications Director Prof Fahrettin Altun opened the summit with a speech covering the idea behind the summit and why it mattered to cleave the European country with Africa.

Prof Altun said the Ankara government has interest in building friendship with African countries to ensure a win-win ending for both parties.

According to him, the diplomatic approach on working with the African states has enabled the Turkish government to establish 43 embassies in Africa as at 2022. This is up from a paltry 12 in 2002.

He said the country’s trade volume with the African states had grown ten times making Turkey a reliable partner of the African continent. And, with the entry of Turkish Airlines that has been getting a grip on the continent’s airspace, Altun said the destinations have grown to 15 within this period.

In addition, the Turkish foundation that has been absorbing African students is yearning to cement this friendship through capacity building. African students, mostly from the northern parts of the continent, are on scholarship, where they study and are to learn Turkish for basic communication.

However, a tour of the bubbly city of Istanbul reveals multiple lessons that most African countries, particularly South Sudan, can borrow. As much as Turkey rides on first world economy with rich political history, which gives it an advantage, there are possible incentives that other countries can borrow and implement with meagre resources.

The Istanbul Airport had quicker clearance for the verification of travel documents and COVID-19 safety compliance. Although travellers can walk to their exits for longer, given the vastness of the airport, the facilities and movement aids make it easier even for those who land at the airport for the first time.

A tour from the Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet via a bus offers a snippet of what really stands out among the Turkiye people. It is not about the carpeted roads or the view of the mountainous regional topography.

But it is about the national flag hanging over the buildings, highway stopovers, and the streets—a special communication of patriotism. Obviously, it is hard to find people hating on their country, and any of such act could easily be treasonous.

But there is also something special about patriotism that can be seen and detected from a far. South Sudan equally has flags waving in some parts of Juba apart from the State House, police stations, government offices, and the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum. 

The people widely speak Turkish, and there are a few cases where one could stumble upon a person who cannot speak French or English. But even in this state of glitch, they take it positively and find no shame in failing to communicate in the other two languages.

Normally, in African countries, failing to communicate in French or English come with weight of shame and mostly low self-esteem. But the Turks simply do not give a damn about it.

They love their culture and their language. They write signs, advertisements, and announcements in Turkish and translate them into English. It happens the same way with English and Arabic in Juba. There is undeniable fact that it took every jot of patriotism and hardwork to build a Turkish society which lives harmoniously.

Hence, it can be done back in Africa with the help of on-going collaboration

The writer is the Editor-in-Chief – City Review Newspaper

The writer is the Editor-In-Chief with The City Review