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My own daughter telling me to don’t be silly

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Kole Omotoso


When Turkey decided to invade Northern Syria and Donald Trump obliged by withdrawing American soldiers from that region, my mind went to my old friends, the Kurds. In particular, I remembered the PKK and their student leader Osman Oçalan (born 1958). PKK was the Kurdish Communist Party formed in 1978 to fight for the creation of a Kurdish nation out of Kurdish minorities in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria making 35 million souls.

As part of the background to this story is the tortured attempt of Turkey to join the European Union but allowed to be a member of the military alliance, the Northern Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The PKK was based in Turkey but flowed across the Turkey/Syria border and was a bother to Turkish security.

The Kurdish population was most oppressed in Turkey. They were not allowed to use their names. They were not permitted to wear their national dress. They could not speak or sing in their mother tongue without being sent to goal. No wonder, the struggle had to start in Turkey. PKK was a student organisation formed in 1978 that became more and more militant until Oçalan, the military leader of the group got into trouble with the leadership of the organisation. Over the years, Oçalan and the group separated. Oçalan became more and more radical while the rest of the organisation reconciled with the Turkish state. Without Oçalan, the organisation substituted society-building for nation-building. It was a delicate relationship but it lasted.

The war against the Islamic State put PKK and the Turkish state on the same side with the American army supplying the arms. So, for a period of five years, the U.S. army armed and supplied the PKK through the Turkish army to defeat the caliphate in northern Syria. Then Turkey remembered its ancient enemy, the PKK. Urgent business of state: destroy the PKK. Donald Trump agrees to pull U.S. army out of Northern Syria. For which everybody and their uncles lambasted Trump for being a traitor and a betrayal of his previous allies, more so, the Kurds who lost 11,000 souls in the war against IS.

Since the U.S. pulling its soldiers out of northern Syria led to Turkey turning on the Kurds, Donald Trump had to stop the president of Turkey to come back. It is the way he said it that struck me. “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool.” It reminded me of a skit written by WS in those early days of Ogbugbu of Gbuu. In an exchange between a father and a six-year-old daughter attending the international school, the daughter told the Daddy to don’t be silly. The Daddy, being the father, faraya. He flew after the six-year-old who jetted out the door and was gone! Not catching the daughter, Daddy found the mother of the rude child and slapped her. “What’s that for early in the morning?” “If you trained your daughter well-well, will she be telling her father to don’t be silly? “But that is an advice!” replied the school teacher mummy and wife. “That’s an advice I don’t expect to take from you or worse from your daughter!”

But this is one President writing to another President, both heads of state. At the United Nations they each have one vote, no more, no less. Could President Trump have advised an African president to don’t be a fool?

Perhaps we need to go back to the relationship between Erdogan and Trump. Perhaps this is the language in which they play one with the other. I am not sure that Trump is on a familiar ground like that to ask an African head of state not to be a fool. But Trump weighed in on some heavy matters. Erdogan must not be responsible for the death of thousands of innocent citizens. Because Trump does not wish to be responsible for destroying the economy of Turkey, because, he said he would. Perhaps Trump was advising both of them not to play the tough guys, not to play being fools. The letter ended with “I will call you later.”

Erdogan had publicly rejected a delegation that Trump was sending to Erdogan to withdraw his troops from northern Syria. Erdogan had told some local journalists that the Vice President and the foreign minister would meet his Vice President and foreign minister. When Trump comes, he Erdogan, will meet him. It was at this point that Trump wrote his letter.

Immediately Erdogan held another press conference in which he admitted that he would meet the US Vice President and foreign minister. If he was not able to carry out his boast, why did he boast it?

There are mixes here as well. Erdogan said no power on earth was going to prevent him from creating the space he wants in northern Syria and he did not stop until he had created the security space. Whatever happens in that area of the Middle East, IS is not coming back. I’m not sure PKK is ever coming back in any form or shape.

We must go back to the home front because that’s where we started. Mama Titi went to the bathroom and washed her face. She picked a few of her favourite things lying around: clothes, shoes, books, some odds and ends. She also picked a few things for Titi. She called her from where she was hiding, belted her in the back seat and drove off. For a whole week, Daddy had no idea where Mummy was. She did not go to work because Daddy checked only to be told that she has not been at work. Come to think of it, what is the logic of slapping your wife because you could not catch your daughter to beat up? From today go, there shall be no beatings in this house.

After a week Mama Titi and her daughter returned to the matrimonial house. Peace reigned because children stopped giving advice to parents and Daddies stopped punishing the mother for the offence of the daughter. Mama Titi would wonder for a long time if African Presidents are like African husbands, incapable of taking simple advice!
bankole.omotoso@elizadeuniversity.edu.ng


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Kole Omotoso
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