KHARTOUM (Sudanow) – Though it is a common belief that the late former President Ga’afar Mohammad Nemeiri was tough with his ministers and highly unapproachable, he was generally famed for his simplicity and humility with members of the general public.
Many tales and funny stories continue to be told about how Nemeiri was humble and forgiving. Here are two of such tales:
Engineer al-Tayyib Tajeddin, a former manager in the Gazeera Scheme, remembers that Nemeiri was one day in 1973 delivering a lengthy speech at a mass rally in the town of Atabara in which he kept talking about the state of affairs in the Arab World and the Question of Palestine. Bored from the long speech, a simple worker among the audience shouted out: ”We are hungry…We are Hungry”. Here Neumeiri shouted back: ”May hunger kill you!” And in his turn the man yelled back: ”May hunger kill you!”. Here the security rushed to arrest the man, but Nemeiri stopped them saying “It is a tit-for- tat. I cursed him and he cursed me!”. Nemeiri then called the man and made him sit beside him. After a while Nemeiri asked the man to go home. But the man refused to leave until Nemeiri wrote him an undertaking he would not be harmed. ”Once you leave the place, your men will arrest me,” he argued. Nemeiri then flashed a big smile and wrote the undertaking.
Witnesses also told the following story: Nemeiri was once accompanied by a number of singers in a tour of South Sudan. The group of singers included the late artists Ahmed al-Mustafa, Osman Hussein and Abdelaziz Mohamed Da’ood, the latter known for his high wits. At the time outstanding singer Moamed Wadi was in jail for claimed involvement in the 1971 coup attempt.
The group of artists wanted to exploit the pleasant atmospheres and seek the release of Mohamed Wardi. They asked Da’ood to use his good offices with Nemeiri to secure Wardi’s release. After Da’ood had finished his show, Nemeiri, who was so fond of him, called him and asked him to sit by his side. Da’ood thought it opportune to approach Nemeiri on the Wardi affair and secure a pardon for him. Da’ood began to crack jokes to create a good mood for his request. Feeling that Nemeiri’s temper was moderated by the jokes, Da’ood began: ”Our brother Mohamed Wardi…..”. Before he could finish what he wanted to say, Nemeiri asked in anger: ”What about Wardi?”. Noting the disturbance in Nemeiri’s face, Da’ood replied quickly: ”When are you going to hang him and rid us of him, Mr. President?”. Taken by surprise, Nemeiri laughed too much that he was about to fall from his seat. That incident consequently led to the release of Wardi.
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