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{UAH} One obstacle that the Nuba side consistently faced was the perfidy of their own chiefs

There were innumerable such cases. One obstacle that the Nuba side consistently faced was the perfidy of their own chiefs: as government servants, accustomed to handsome payment for their work, they were frequently ready to accept bribes to support the Arab side in a dispute. A farmer from Kufa village in the Miri jebels described some of the problems they faced:

"Our Arab neighbours used to be Misiriya Zurug, Humr, and Awlad
Muman. At one time we had peaceful settlement of disputes. I
recall one case in 1978 when the Awlad Muman killed one Miri
man, Zeidan Ibrahim Kafi. Diya [bloodmoney] was negotiated but
they refused to pay. Then the government made a conference and
the matter was settled. They paid.

 From about 1980 we had more problems resolving our cases.
There was one community health worker, Abdel Gadir Tiya, who
was seriously wounded in 1981, speared by an Arab. Despite our
attempts, the case was never settled. The Arabs were paying the
Miri negotiators to stop the case going ahead.

 Another case was in 1985. The Arabs came to the village of el
Akhwal, they attacked it and occupied it. They didn't kill anyone.
The people just ran away. One man, Taj el Sir⎯he later died in the
SPLA⎯complained to the mek, Mohamed el Zaki, who took the
case to Kadugli. Ten days passed before anyone responsible came
to visit the place. We saw no sign of any police for ten days. The
case was settled by the police and the mek, but we weren't happy.
The accused were let go free because there was no-one to witness
against them. Mek Mohamed el Zaki was responsible for this."

 Frustration with the betrayal by their chiefs was an important reason why many Nuba youths and farmers turned to the SPLA.  A particularly important dispute occurred in early 1987, in the Shatt area south of Kadugli. It started with a minor incident, but rapidly developed into a national political issue, that reveals many components of the unfolding crisis. An issue of particular sensitivity that was raised was the value, in terms of diya, of a Nuba life vis-à-vis an Arab life.

 Kuku Idris al Izerig Kafi is now an SPLA officer. In 1987, he was one of the educated members of the Shatt Damam community who was asked to represent the Shatt side in negotiations. He recounted the background to the incident:

"Our neighbours at Shatt Damam are Misiriya Zurug and Fellata
Hausa (mostly merchants), as well as the Kadugli people. Before
the war, we would see the Misiriya after the rains, when they would
come from the north and make their farigs [nomadic camps] outside
our villages. They would share our water and come to seek boys to
work with them as cowherds. Our contact was limited.

 On 2 February 1987 a serious problem started. The Misiriya
came as usual the previous November and December, and found
that our people had gathered the harvest, which remains in the
farms in heaps until March. But on that day some of them released
their cows onto the stored sorghum in the farms. Two farmers were
present, guarding their crops. They came to chase the cattle away.
The Arab was armed and shot at them. One was injured and his
brother who came after him was killed."


Gwokto La'Kitgum
"I want first-time offenders to think of their appearance in my courtroom as the second-worst experience of their lives … circumcision being the first." Judge Judy
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