Would You Like to Die in The Land Where You Were Born?

Cemil Ozyurt
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East or west, no matter where you go in the world, chances are you will encounter Turks. Maybe on a calm island in the middle of an ocean, maybe at an ice cream parlor in Japan, during a cab ride in Israel, in a village in Manchuria or on a construction site in Saudi Arabia. I do not even want to include the European countries in these examples.
Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, receives 400 thousand new residents every year. About 6.3 million illegal immigrants from Mexico live in the U.S., according to the Pew Hispanic Center, and an average of 485,000 more arrive every year.

Every year, 100,000 people migrate to Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, due to fear of terrorism as well as poverty.  

That is to say, there are quite a few people like the Turks, who look for a new life in foreign places. It is possible to encounter a Chinatown in every large city. Even the Italians counted among the largest ethnic populations in many countries, from Argentina to the US. The people of Pakistan have shouldered the hardest jobs in rich Arab countries. Last year Koreans marked the 100th anniversary of their first immigration to Mexico in Merida, the country's southeastern port city where their forefathers first landed.

In order to make sure that people die in the lands that they were born in, economic stability is a must. That must be one of the main reasons why it is so difficult to meet a Swedish or a Danish person in any foreign country that you visit…

That is why I do not share the same feeling of delight as those who are happy to encounter a Turkish person everywhere they go. “Who do you find in the lands that those Turks were born in?” You encounter villages and towns that are emptied due to migration. That is the saddest part.

My uncle’s son, whom I used to play on the streets with as a child, is in London now, trying to make a living. My closest friend from college is a citizen of the Netherlands right now. A friend of mine from military service has a company in England nowadays. My four cousins, all of whom were born in Germany, speak better German than Turkish.
Becoming global and being citizens of the world is all very well, but what about the culture shock that the second generation will have? They might not even have access to the language of their parents or to a gravestone in their own lands after they pass away!

I am not trying to advocate that ‘Everyone should stay where they are and not move around.’ The people who travel the most in the world are Germans, because their income is sufficient for them to live where they are born and to travel around the world. Will the Turks, who have not stopped migrating since they  left Central Asia because of hunger, be able to die in their native lands one day? Humankind will know the answer to that question during the 21st century, but our generation will never know.  

(March 2006, 19th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07