Arbër Bdek…


By 1900s, Albania was still under the rule of a weakened Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman Empire had lost most of it’s territories in the Balkans.
And, in 1912, Albanian Landlords, wanting autonomy, managed to inspire an uprising that saw the Ottomans out of Albania. A Monarchical government was quickly established, but with the landlords dictating to the government.
There was discontent amongst common albanians. Power and wealth was unevenly distributed. Albanian people begun to wish away this Hegemony.
..Barely 12 months from establishment, fraught with wrangling, no army, a teetering economy, it was easy for a 200 strong Man Army of Russians to invade their Country and set up camp at Tirana.
The Russians begun to dictate to the Monarchical government…
..The Monarchical government was subliminally reduced to a superficial government…
..Tired of the imbalances brought upon by the insistent Landlords, the common albanian quickly warmed to the Russians. ..They seemed to have brought some sense of order.
…The Russians went ahead and set up a T.V station, and continued their stay..
Soon, a handful of mercantile minded non army Russians, joined in, and set up Shops selling textile from Ukraine…
..Albanians got used to having the Russians around..

Much later though, a new generation of albanians begun to think otherwise of their stay..
In time, some 300 young Men went to Montenegro to train as Soldiers… and a great leader emerged…..

Arbër Bdek’s childhood was alittle uneventful.
By the time he was 5 years, the Monarchical government was still being dictated to by the Russians who had settled 21 years earlier…
..It was customary to see the Russian Soldiers walking the streets, usually two.. or three of them…

Bdek’s Father was a watch repairer.. ..His mother stayed at home and took care of the Home..
..At age 5, Bdek begun his schooling at a nearby Kindergarten, learning arithmetic and vocabulary. ..The Kindergarten just had 9 other Kids… it was a small Kindergarten, that had to undergo extensions every time the kids had to upraise to the next class, all the way to Elementary… ..Bdek, had all his schooling here…
..A lone Child, and there being no other kids in his neighbourhood, except Hyinora Hyidhor, a shy little girl who lived a few blocks away, School is where Bdek had all his interactions with other kids…

Hyinora’s Father owned a Bakery.. ..That’s where Bdek got two Oval loaves whenever he’s mother sent him… and sometimes would see Russian Soldiers taking a walk.. with shiny boots, ..which he admired…

Bdek was a natural artist… Upon completion of his Elementary Schooling, he set up an Art’s workshop nearby their home
making intricate Design ornaments of metal plates, and made reasonable living….
..Russian merchants got the ornaments from him, and resold them in Ukraine….
…But, by the time he was 16, he was beginning to wonder about the Russian occupation… This was the general feeling amongst most Albanians of younger generation..
..He begun to see that the Russians were holding down something, and Albania was better without them..
…At that time, Agimor Rrezag, who worked at a Cheese cottage, and would passby Bdek’s store on his way to work.. begun to notice Bdek’s creative designs.. and started stopping by.. to see progresses he made …. they became friends … And soon, they would talk about the Russian occupation…..



..They held to that….

At 19, Bdek befriended Hyinora Hyidhor, the Baker’s daughter. They were married shortly after. A year later their daughter Blerta came…. and 2 years later, their second daughter Drita came, and at 24… Hana, their third and last daughter, came…. this was at the time when Bdek and Rrezag were thinking seriously of how to get rid of the Russians….
They brought on board Rrezag friends, Rraman Gzim and Teodor Tanush….
..The idea of forming an Army was broached… but they needed Arms.. and training… Bdek suggested they talk to Zoran Ratimir, Montenegrin leader.. And that was agreed upon.
..Bdek and Rrezag would travel to Podgorica…..

Bdek, and his friend Rrezag left for Podgorica… and arrived at the Palace of Strongman Zoran Ratimir…
At the Gates, they tell the two guards they need to speak to the Montenegrin Strongman..
On query of the nature of the matter, they say they’d rather not disclose…
….Not wishing to down play the importance of the matter, one of the Guards goes inside the Palace to confer with the Strongman.. He comes back a short while later, and lets them in…..

In the Palace, the Montenegrin Strongman greets them, and they sit to talk….
Bdek tells him they had come for help.. and goes on to tell him their Cause….
Zoran Ratimir, warm, and looking relieved, perhaps that the matter was not undesirable as he might have feared, agrees to help… A Plan is agreed upon, and Bdek and Rrezag leave the Palace..promising to return in 6 months…..

Bdek and Rrezag are back in Albania, they, and the other 2 Men, Rraman Gzim and Teador Tanush, do not waste time, but begin to recruit young, eager, ‘committed-to-being-Soldiers’ calibre of Men, from all over the Country… giving them a reporting date to Podgorica…..

In time, Bdek bids farewell to his family … he was going to be away for 4 years … a call had come that he had to answer to…
At Krnovo Camp, Podgorica, 300 young Men had converged…

Training Camp started in earnest…

Meanwhile, they were receiving dole which Bdek sent home to his family….

The four years ended, Zoran Ratimir had expended his help… it was now time for Albanians to get back Albania to Albanians…..

The Strategy was uncomplicated…. The Albanians were to drive into Paskuqan camp at the Wee hours of the morning, to an unexpecting Russian Army … grenade the Arms Store … and as the Frantic soldiers came out of their sleeping dorms, a call would be made on a Public Address System, asking the Soldiers to stop all movement….
..They would then be given send off orders… asking them to leave in 12 hours…..

And that is what happened…..





Rrezag: I was working at a Cheese Cottage down the block.. ..and was living nearby Bdek’s store.. I would have to pass by Bdek’s store on my way to work.. even before he started his store.. when he set his store, at some point I noticed very interesting designs (laughs)…
So I..I got up close, and was very impressed by what I saw. I got interested (laughs) so I would stop by from work to see how far he’d gone with his works..
…We became friends… ..So we got talking.

So the topic of the Russian’s occupation came up.
We seemed to agree that Albania be better left for Albanians.


Rrezag: Ah, we knew it would take forces to get the Russians out… but, we kind of left it at that…..


Rrezag: Bdek was an extraordinary leader.. A GREAT visionary…
You saw these qualities at an early age…
He paid Great attention to detail… I guess.. (laughs) this was part of his being a great artist (laughs)…

He was a cut of his own Block…..


Rrezag: At the height of his Leadership Albania was immensely transformed…
We had moved quickly to Upper middle Class State..
And we had a Vibrant Economy…
People were Happy… you saw it in the faces…
See, he’d always said that a happy.. healthy people… was the face of the Nation…
And that was true…

When we started, we had a few Landlords owning most of the land ..
So we reclaimed all the land.. all Albanian land became property of the State, where everyone had equal rights to the land.
So as not to seem to bully the Landlords, we called them, and sat with them.. and explained how things were going to work ..
We had a System based on Welfare where the working class and small capitalists(those who wished to set up stores) had all their interests equally protected ..
That is how things worked ..


Rrezag: Ah, we knew we needed to have an Army.. this was about the time Bdek’s last daughter, Hana, came .. we needed arms, and training ..
Bdek suggested we talk to Zoran Ratimir of Montenegro… by this time we had added two more Men Rraman Gzim and Teodor Tanush ..
So we agreed that Bdek and I would travel to Montenegro ..

Ah, at Montenegro, at the Palace gate there’re two stern looking Soldiers..(laughs)… Bdek speaks… the Soldier’s countenance change..(laughs) he spoke with authority, but calm… He told them we needed to Speak with the Strongman… They asked to know the nature of the matter.. And he said we’d rather not disclose..
So one of the Soldiers goes in to confer with the Strongman.. and comes back a short while later.. and let’s us in..

At the Palace, we tell the Montenegrin Strongman our Cause…
…Warm, and looking relieved, perhaps that the matter was not undesirable as he might have feared, agrees to help…
So we set up a Plan… and leave… with the promise of returning in 6 months…


Rrezag: So, we returned to Tirana, and together with Gzim and Tanush… didn’t waste time…
we started to recruit young, eager, ‘committed-to-being-Soldiers’ calibre of men.. from all over the country.. giving them a reporting date to Podgorica ..

At the Base camp, Podgorica… 300 men had assembled..
…And so training started in earnest…..

Meanwhile we were getting dole… Bdek was sending to his family back at home.. I didn’t have my family at the time..(laughs), and so were the other Men, Rraman Gzim and Teodor Tanush….

So the 4 years ended.. we were ready… Zoran Ratimir had expended his help… it was time to get back Albania to Albanians…

Our Strategy was not complicated..
We were to drive into Tirana at wee hours of the morning.. and get to Paskuqan camp to an unexpecting Russian Army… Grenade the Arms Store, and as Frantic soldiers started coming out of their dorms.. a call would be made on a Public Address System… asking them to stop any movement… They would then be given their send off orders, asking them to leave in 12 hours…

And that is what happened…

So we set up camp at Kamëz.. and waited for the Russian soldiers to leave…

By Mid midday, the Russian soldiers had begun to leave.. including the Merchant Russians … by afternoon, the last Russian Soldier had left…

So we went to the T.v station…
See, when the Russians set camp, they installed a T.v station, they had albanians working at the station… the Russians were showing German movies that were poorly subtitled(laughs).. but no one seemed to mind much… Ah.. the t.v sets were being brought in from Ukraine by the Russian merchants… and resold to other parts of Albania by Albanian merchants…
So, most Albanian homes had a t.v set…
…So we went to the station, and found albanian workers there… and we told them we were Albanian soldiers… ofcourse they could see the little Albanian flags on our Military fatigues(laughs..) ..and we asked them if we could broadcast an important message to the Albanian people… …they let us in..( alittle surprised.. and confused too..)(laughs)… I don’t think people knew exactly what was going on….
..They could have been — Ooh! The Russian Army is going away… but where…? They set their Camp on fire..!
..There is another Camp on the other side..!

..So, anyway.. they prepared for Broadcast…
So we went on t.v… Bdek begun to speak… we were flanking him on the sides..
And he told the People that the Russians had been sent away… and Albania was now for Albanians…
And a government was going to be formed…
And would be broadcasted not too long..
And we had not planned this, but Bdek begun to move away and we stayed where we were, we all knew who our leader was.. It was Amazing..

When we stepped out, there was jubilation everywhere…
People begun coming out waving Albanian flags… and begun singing Albanian Folksongs…

So we set government…


Teodor Tanush was incharge of INDUSTRIALIZATION.

Rraman Gzim was incharge of FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

Ilir Ramush was CHIEF ECONOMIST.

Artan Urt was incharge of DOMESTIC ISSUES.


Rrezag: Bdek was CHARISMATIC…
He was an INSPIRATION to the People
He was loved, He was Adored
..He was Extraordinary…



Hana: My Father was a source of inspiration to the people, he was a Symbol of stability.. he was adored…
His Official portraits are still everywhere…


Rrezag: We had worked out a GOOD sustainable ECONOMIC POLICY…
Which Ilir Ranush had to implement .. And he did a very good job of it … He was working very hard .. That’s how we got quick transformation ..
I was the Chief of the army .. My job was not hard..(laughs) .. I just took care of the Welfare of the Soldiers…

RRAMAN GZIM: Artan Urt was incharge of Domestic Issues … He did a tremendous job … Albania was transformed to a Beautiful place …
Alot of Theatres and arenas, and Art Universities were established …
Art Universities are responsible for the Beautiful architecture ….


Rrezag: BDEK was a great family Man. He loved his wife and kids, he had pride in them.

There was a phone in the boardroom, and he had made it clear to the Secretary that if his wife was on phone he would take the call.
We would be in a meeting and his wife calls, and take the call, and he’d be there saying all these sweet things … such was the Man!

There was always a stir when he walked with his family to the theatre to watch a play. He loved plays and orchestral music.

HANA: My Father loved his Family..
He loved spending time with us, we walked the Lawns of the OFFICIAL PALACE.

He kissed us the kids goodnight every day..
Sometimes when I had to use the bathroom, he was there in his study, in dim light.. door slightly open..
He liked to work late..
He always got up early.. he liked his coffee.. he made us breakfast.


RREZAG: At 51, he was already thinking of his successor ..

He made a younger Man his deputy… Mr. Indrit Shkëlzen, the current leader ..
Mr. Shkëlzen was 39 at the time …


RREZAG: Alot of records say BDEK was a great man .. but you had to be around him, see him, and hear him ..

HANA: Of my three Sons, Urtash who’s the eldest, is the one who most resemble my Father.. He’s semblance is striking..
People still get amazed by his semblance… and constantly tell him his grandfather was a great man ..

I tell them He was a great man your grandfather.. My Father

— OVER –

This Story is a work of fiction.
All the Characters are imagined.

Duncan Kihato



“Photo Design by Freepik”

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