Mustafa Kemal Atatürk: The Visionary by Subin Sherry

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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk: The Visionary by Subin Sherry

This essay won the Bronze Award at the Queens Commonwealth Essay Competition 2022

Even though most people lack the capacity to guide others during times of turmoil and upheaval, some people nonetheless step forward to act morally. One of these influential leaders was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Revolutionary, strong, and influential leaders rose to prominence throughout the 20th century, helping to mould the world as we know it. These leaders came into being as normal people and left as giants that we look up to—even today. We witnessed the formation of nations despite the challenging start to the 20th century and the possibility that it was not quite perfect. Leaders, like Kemal, who made the decision to rise up and guide their people toward the light were at the forefront of the establishment of these nations. 

Born into the Ottoman Turkish Empire, Kemal looked up to his father, Ali Riza, as a hero. Kemal’s father embodied the good, the brave, and the progressive, three ideals that served as inspiration for Kemal. Kemal’s father embodied three ideals that served as his inspiration: goodness, bravery, and progress. His family was in financial straits after the untimely death of his father. Unfortunately, his father died unexpectedly during Kemal’s early years, causing financial straits for the family. People often become who they are meant to be as a result of the circumstances they encounter. These circumstances made Kemal a survivor and a fighter. Even though Kemal and his mother moved in with his uncle, he soon developed a desire to become self-sufficient—a mindset that would later manifest itself in his movement to restore Turkey. Mustafa enlisted to join the army, just as his father had wished.

 Much like what oil does to fire, the army enhanced and contributed to Mustafa’s personality. Despite some claims that he was narcissistic as a result of the army’s influence, these misunderstood characteristics of Kemal became crucial for the founding of the Turkish Republic. In order to give Turkey his own idea of freedom and to create a more contemporary Turkey, Kemal integrated his mindset, patriotism, and self-concept. Atatürk, which literally translates to “The Father of the Turks,” became Kemal’s new and more well-known name as a result of his success in the later stages of his career.

Following the partition of the Ottoman provinces in 1918, Turkey had lost its significance.  Kemal was dispatched to Samsun in the position of Inspector General in response to the allied powers’ demands. He did not hesitate when granted the opportunity to make an impact and boost the morale of his country. He made the armed forces more unified, powerful, and capable of upholding Turkey’s independence and rights. He addressed the nation as a whole by saying, “If we can’t succeed, rather than fall into the plan of the enemy like a bird, and be condemned to a gradual, ignoble death, we prefer being the sons of our forefathers, to die fighting. Here is when Kemal’s sense of patriotism truly shines. He demonstrated his willingness to fight for his country rather than to submit to the ideologies of another country. He is prepared to defend his nation and its culture despite the chaos because he is proud of his people. He raised the nation’s spirits, resulting in the divided Ottoman provinces uniting once more.

“I will not leave the nation alone in its fight.” 

  • Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

A leader to lead them through the storm was exactly what the people of colonised nations hungered for. 

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was able to achieve where others would have failed because of his brilliance, great wisdom, and love for his nation. He is regarded as the father of modern Turkey today but to say that alone does not do him justice. One of the greatest warriors for freedom, Kemal leveraged his courage to take action and inspired hope in other countries that had been colonised by Europe. Through his efforts of liberation, freedom, and progress, Kemal established a benchmark of a strong governing system that nations still follow today. He demonstrated to the world his unwavering tenacity by challenging European powers— a feat no one had ever before accomplished.

Kemal, in contrast to many other politicians, recognised the importance of leadership. He didn’t want to invade or threaten other nations. He only cared about preserving Turkey’s independence while maintaining its interdependence with other nations. Kemal fought for more than only his country’s independence. As a matter of fact, he advocated for and supported other nations’ sovereignty and independence. Kemal demonstrated his sincere desire for peace. He provided refuge for Jewish individuals in Germany and put an end to hate campaigns.

Although leadership was his strong suit, it was not the only quality he was admired for. Ataturk made use of his intelligence to gain a political advantage. He ratified the Treaty of Lausanne in reaction to the Treaty of Sevres, thereby annulling it. It was a complete success in the end for Turkey. As a result, he defied Russia, France, Italy, and Greece and regained the territory that had formerly belonged to past Turkish generations. His victory provided the flicker of hope for other nations. 

Kemal promptly began the next phase of his plan after declaring victory in the fight for Turkey’s independence. There were numerous cultural and sociological advancements of modern civilization during that time period. Few of these were actually put into effect in most countries, however, Kemal put them all into practice. Kemal also made education both free and required for everyone in the country. He endeavoured to see that the nation was well-educated enough to safeguard Turkey’s future. Watching from across oceans, the West particularly admired this action. 

Kemal liberated the people who suffered under colonial powers in more ways than merely releasing them from colonial rule. He also liberated the people from long-standing cultural customs that were in contradiction with the nation’s beliefs. He accomplished this by introducing a Latin-based Turkish alphabet instead of the Ottoman alphabet. Further, He ensured that the women of Turkey received equal civil and political rights—a feat that very few nations in the world had accomplished. He granted women equal rights and allowed them to run for parliamentary seats. He strengthened their emancipation by instituting legal processes like making divorce a civil action and marriage a civil contract.

Kemal’s humility was frequently recognized as being the most admirable among his other virtues. He had the chance to consolidate his position as dictator, but he chose not to. Kemal never lost his humility, even after several titans of the 20th century, like Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy, hailed him for his bravery. He never lost sight of the greater picture. 

“Turkey for the Turks”

  • Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

The greatest successful freedom fighter in history, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, rebuilt and modernised Turkey into a more effective government and a legitimate parliamentary system that allowed for progress. He succeeded in moving his country from one era to the next on his own. He is, was, and always will be the true hero for the countries that endured various forms of colonialism. Kemal transformed what appeared to be the fall of an empire into a nation fully rooted in faith and still thriving today.