Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Serbian surge

I am not in the habit of posting successively on my blog unless something unusual happens.  Well, something unusual has happened to the readership in the last weeks.  Apart from registering over a thousand page views, Serbia has surged from nowhere to no. 7 in the number of visitors to the blog ahead of Ethiopia, Canada and Denmark but still behind the leaders : America, Gambia, UK, Sweden, Senegal and Germany.

There is pleasure in seeing an increase in readership.  But equally pleasurable is the expansion of the scope or coverage of the readership that usually implies diversity, both in group affiliation as well as in views, be they political or otherwise.  The numbers are therefore as important as what those numbers represent.

This brings me to the Serbian case.  When I saw the figures, the first thing that came to mind was UNMIK or the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo where Gambians served as UN personnel.  Another place where Gambian civil servants served in much greater numbers and in higher positions of power and influence was in East Timor.  Is it that there are still Gambians in Serbia than initially thought or is that Serbians suddenly have an interest in Gambian affaires.  Not that it matters, I am just curious.  So any feed-back on this matter will be greatly appreciated.

If in the event that there is a similar surge in interest from East Timor there is a ready-made explanation. There are Gambians and perhaps first-generation East Timorese-Gambians old enough to gain interest in The Gambia.  But so far, we have not had the good fortune and the privilege to be read by East Timorese or residents of East Timor.    

Speaking of East Timor and how ex-Gambian civil servants came to occupy the young nation's administrative machinery, including the judiciary and law enforcement.  The person responsible was one Jose Victor de Silva Angelo,  Most of us who worked with him simply referred to him as Victor Angelo.  Victor served as UNDP Resident Representative to The Gambia from 1989 - 1994.  A sociologist by training but a consummate politician in every sense of the word with a great skill at networking.   I am not sure if the coup found him in Banjul because I had left two years before.  What is certain is Victor can sense trouble from afar.

As a Portuguese national, he'd live in Portugal under the dictatorship of Antonio Salazar.  He knew there will be an exodus of trained Gambians once the military has entrenched itself.  So when he was appointed UN Special Envoy for East Timor by the then UN Secretary General in 1999, he quickly reached out for his Gambian rolodex full of seasoned Gambian civil servants thus filling the urgently needed vacancies created by the departing Indonesians.  He knew most of the Gambians he recruited personally or helped recruit using his influence in the UN System even after he left the post in 2000.

I had diverted somewhat.  But I thought it was a story worth telling in the context of Gambians in faraway places.  Back to Serbia, we are happy to have you onboard and look forward to your continued support. As long as we cover the issues in a fair and factual manner, we expect to retain your loyalty.