KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Former Sudanese Foreign Minister Ahmad Khair, a barrister by education, was a formidable backer of the law. One of the strange incidents told about his respect and pursuit of justice had occurred one day in the 1960s:
It so happened that in the Blue Nile District’s town of Sinja that lawyer Abdelghaffar Yousif was approached by the owner of the office he rented for his legal work had asked him to evacuate the place because he needed it for himself. But Lawyer Yousif argued that his fame as a lawyer was associated with this very office and, so, he would not quit, no matter the consequences.
Here the landlord filed a lawsuit at Sinja court seeking his property’s evacuation “for pressing personal need.”
The man then approached the town’s lawyers one after the other to defend his cause in court. All the lawyers when knowing that the accused was their fellow lawyer Yousif, declined to take the case.
The landlord then travelled North to Sinnar town, but all lawyers therein declined to stand in court against their fellow lawyer. The man then travelled further North to Wad Medani and there was no single lawyer who would do the job. The man then travelled further North to Khartoum and no one was ready to take the case.
One day the man sat at the gateway of Khartoum primary court shouting out that “our country is lost .. the lawyers take our property and there is no one to defend us. What kind of country is this?”
Ahmad Khair, who happened to be in court, heard the man and asked him what was up. When the man told him the story, Ahmad Khair said he would stand for his cause in court. ”Just give me the date of your hearing and I will be in court at the right time,” said Khair.
Here the man asked Khair about his name, Khair concealed his identity and just said: ”I am a lawyer.”
“How much would you charge me?”, asked the man.
“Did I ask you about money?”, asked Khair, adding: ”what is important is that I will be in court with you at the right time.”
Then Khair travelled all the distance from Khartoum to Sinja (600 kilometers) to represent the plaintiff.
When the case was opened for hearing, Ahmad Khair stepped forward to represent the plaintiff, to the surprise of the judge, the accused and the audience. ”I stand for the landlord,” Khair told the Judge.
When the accused saw Ahmad Khai with all his stature standing in court, he asked: Sir! Did you travel all this distance from Khartoum to stand for the case of this petty shop?
“No, my son,” replied Khair. ”I came here to restore this man’s confidence in our judicial system,” he said, pointing at the plaintiff.
The accused and the court were taken by surprise at this reply. The accused then immediately addressed Khair that:” If that is the case, I will not let you travel back to Khartoum empty handed. I am asking the court to rule in favor of the plaintiff.” He then took the keys of the office and gave them to the judge who handed them to the landlord.
Taking the keys, the plaintiff addressed the judge: “Sir! It was my thought that our country no longer had men of such a caliber. But now, and knowing that we still have law in this country, I swear not to take the keys. Take them and return them to the lawyer and let him stay in my place until the Day of Judgment!”
Khair has gone down in the history of Sudan as the first person to blow the whistle for peaceful struggle for independence from British rule, co-founding the Graduates Congress in Wad Medanin in 1938 with his friend Ismael al-Atabani. The Graduates Congress then led a hectic campaign for this cause. Later on the Congress developed into political parties that took over the struggle until the country’s independence was attained in 1956. Khair was Sudan's Foreign Minister in 1959-1962, during the military rule of General Ibrahim Abboud. Khair was born in the village of Fadasi of the Gezira State in 1902 and died in Khartoum in 1995.
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