I didn’t even know where Gambia was until two days ago and now, I root for its people

If you have been following the news, you might have read that the Gambia has been dragged into a chaotic uncertainty in less than a week. The president/dictator Yahya Jammeh, who has been clinging to the power since 1994 after a bloodless coup, refuses to step down and allow the peaceful transition of power. He recently declared a state of emergency and extended his rule of 90 days as the last resort, yet Senegal’s army has already entered the country and at this moment marching to the capital, aiming to remove Jammeh from power. Adama Barrow, the president-elect, sought refuge in Senegal after the declaration of state of emergency and was sworn to the office at the Gambian Embassy in Senegal just yesterday.

To be frank, I did not even know where the Gambia was or who Jammeh was until two days ago but as I began to read the news, that tingling sense of relevance grew in my head: This whole incident happening in Turkey is disturbingly easy for me to imagine. A ruler who refuses to step down with the fear of prosecution, declares a state of emergency to desperately cling to the power, does not allow peaceful transition of power, is famous for putting his political opponents in jail, using political Islam and showing symptoms of delusion with claims like “God willing, I can rule for a billion more years” or “I cure AIDS with herbs and prayers” or “Who doesn’t support me is a traitor”. Well, it almost sounds like a certain individual in Turkey (I’m not the only one who noticed the resemblance, by the way. The members of “the Turkish Reddit”, Eksisozluk has been posting jokes and puns about these two since yesterday).

But STILL, why do I care so much as to dedicate a blog post for this? Because 1) I am highly familiar with the frustration, fear and hopelessness the citizens of the Gambia must be feeling now and 2) It validates my theory: Regardless of geographic, socioeconomic or political conjunctures, all dictators are eventually destined to fall – and most of the time, in a brutal fashion. Because of this, every time I explain to someone how I feel about my country’s future, I end on a hopeful note: “Well, I know it looks bad, it is bad, but it will not last forever.” I believe this hope is what we, the Turkish citizens, need at this moment – especially at this moment.

These are dark times, there’s no denying. Difficult days for my country are slowly appearing on the horizon as the Turkish Parliament is currently voting on a constitution that will dissolve the democracy in Turkey. The Turkish lira has been plummeting, unemployment has been growing, politicians and journalists have been thrown to jails without even a trial and my friends have never felt so pessimistic about their future. And I have never felt so heartbroken yet glad to be away from the land I call home at the same time. My only silver lining is that I since I left, I have felt awestruck by what an unstoppable force the progress of humanity is (even Donald Trump’s election didn’t change my thought).

Since the first humans began to record history, there has always been someone whose imagination transcended their time and someone else who would try to shut them up violently, because the status quo favored them. But ideas never fell even though the people did – they would simply continue to live on someone else’s mind until the moment comes for them to flourish and carry the humanity forward.

But I guess this is embedded in our nature. Since the beginning of our evolution, we wandered the meadows, climbed the mountains, crossed the oceans. We spread to the whole world. We explored. We invented. We created. We communicated to pass on the knowledge, moved forward. We still are. Human mind is just not meant to be oppressed or dulled. One way or another, every single person who attempts to stay in the progress’ way is destined to kneel before its power or become history.

Because of this, I believe that, now more than ever, we have to look at the fate of people like Yahya Jammeh and remind ourselves that eventually, courage will trump cowardice. Freedom will trump chains. Justice will trump revenge. Hope will trump fear. Brain will trump ignorance. People will trump tyrants.


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