Tribal Chief Succeeded Where Official Judiciary Failed

Tribal Chief Succeeded Where Official Judiciary Failed


KHARTOUM (Sadanow) - Tribal Chief Wad Nawwai was appointed long years ago as Omda (mayor) of the vast area from the Southern White Nine District down to the border with the Upper Nile State (in what has now become part of the new state of South Sudan).


One day a man from the Northern Upper  Nile District complained to the authorities that someone had trespassed in his cattle shed and stole four calves he kept in. Police started a hunt until they found the calves in a cattle shed of a man who stood fast that the calves were his own.

The case, related to Sudanow by Attorney Mustafa Hasabo, was filed to the judiciary and, in the meantime, two other men each appeared to claim the calves were his. Each of the three men brought witnesses to prove his right. But the owner kept his ground and said the cattle were his rightful property.


The sitting judge could not issue a ruling and relegated the case to tribal chieftain Wad Nawwai, known for his knowledge of the population and also for his wide public acceptability.


Wad Nawwai called a sitting of the tribunal dignitaries to rule on the case.


When the tribunal was in session, Wad Nawwai ordered the Police (that had always kept the calves) to take each calve and put it fifty meters away in a different direction.


Then he called the first claimant and ordered him to go out and call each of the calves by its name. It is common tradition among cattle breeders to give each of their livestock a name. The man went out and started to call the calves by their claimed names, calls passed unheeded by the young cows.


The same test was repeated with the second and third claimants and the calves did not move.

Then Wad Nawwai asked the calves’ owner to go out and call the calves by their names. When the man started to call the calves by their names, they recognized his voice and ran happily towards him.




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