Teddy bears and teachers

Something odd is going on. Actually, this exact arrangement of words are the ones that have been most used by the pack of journalists that have descended on Khartoum over the past week, to cover this Gillian Gibbons story.

But something odd really is going on. I’m sure of it.

And it goes way beyond the stories that everyone has been bent on writing over the past days – about the fanaticism of Muslims in Sudan, and the tragic incarceration of poor Ms Gibbons. That in itself is odd, but it is not quite the quintessential oddness I am talking about.

For days, whilst other journalists have been insisting that Ms Gibbons will be sent home with an apologetic slap on the back (as ultimately happened), I have been yelling from the rooftops that this turn of affairs is quite simply impossible. I repeatedly told my editors in London this.

Okay, so I am now humbled.

But there is still something odd going on. Of that I am quite sure. I know Sudan. Bashir wouldn’t have just caved into Western pressure, albeit under the guise of two smartly-dressed Muslims, had there not been something strange afoot. Gibbons’ early release would have been something too hard to sell to the Sudanese.

Quite what this oddness is, I am not going to divulge, until I have written the piece – or at least been suitably embarrassed for the second time. But isn’t it strange that Mubarak al-Fadil, the opposition leader who was released from gaol less than twenty-four hours before Gibbons was pardoned, is also good friends with a senior member of the Unity High School?

That’s all I’m saying for the moment. For the rest, you’ll just have to wait.


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