In 2008, a conflict erupted between pastoralists and farmers in the district of Rabbah Nairah (west of Shangil Toobai and south of Tabat). Ten camels entered into a farm, and three of them were killed by the farm owner. This led to armed skirmishes between the pastoralists and farmers that almost triggered a war. Abdullah Mohamd Jumaah, an elderly mediator with experience and wisdom, approached the two parties in an attempt to reach a solution acceptable to all.

Initially, the farmers rejected his approaches and demanded that he first approach the herders who, they claimed, were the ones who started the trouble. Seeing their tactics, Abdullah resorted to the ‘guest’ trick. On his second visit to the farmers, he claimed to be visiting as a guest (usually you must either state the purpose of a visit or, otherwise, be given the treatment of a guest). He was pampered with the hospitality and generosity fit for a guest. The farmers sat for hours with him – chatting. During the small talk he began to insert a series of stories telling of the noble value of forgiving those who exact hurt on you when you are able to do otherwise and resort to vengeance. He also cited Quranic verses and traditions of Prophet Mohamed that all call for forgiveness.

When he was certain that they were positively following what he was telling them, he slowly shifted to talking about the incident in question. He heard the complete story from them. He asked them why they wanted to attack the other party and they said it was because the herders failed even to express regret. He asked- how about the camels you killed? They said it was to vent their anger over the harm inflicted on them. He said, had you sold them it would have looked a way of relief but you slaughtered them: you did not benefit from that nor did it recompense a right while the other party were left feeling bitterness for your hurt to them. Some of the Native Administration men then admitted they had made a mistake much as the herders had, and that this issue had to be resolved. They asked Abdullah to mediate.

He then went, again pulling the ‘guest’ trick, to visit the pastoralist community. This time he spent four days without uttering a word about his real purpose of ‘visit’, enjoying their hospitality. He noticed how very angry they were and decided to let things cool down, spending lengthy hours simply chatting with them. Then on the fifth day he started talking about how he and herders could reach a solution that would satisfy the other party. They insisted they only want to attack the farmers to show them how revenge looks. He asked them if they would encourage injustice and they said, no, but we are the party served injustice. He said what about a farm that a person would spend months irrigating ‘with their own sweat’ and that your camels would destroy in minutes. How about the farmer, his family and kids? This went on and finally they agreed form a committee headed by Abdullah the peacemaker to list losses.

A native court of law was convened and the compensation sums to be paid by each party were determined. Abdullah supervised the whole process of payment and ever since kept good ties with both parties and would visit each in the company of a delegation from the other community to drink tea and coffee which are getting established as a tradition now!