One of the funnier stories about Garagoosh’s lack of fair judgment concerns a farmer who appeared before him to complain that a thief had stolen one of his chickens. He produced a witness and the thief made a full confession under Garagoosh’s interrogation. Garagoosh then announced that the thief must pay a fine of one dinar. Upon hearing this everyone thought that the matter had been settled until Garagoosh added that the owner of the chicken and his witness should also be fined a dinar each as well! When they asked Garagoosh about the legal basis upon which the judgment was based, he merely remarked, ‘I judged the thief because he has taken what doesn’t belong to him. I fined the owner because he didn’t take good care of his chicken.’ ‘But what guilt did the witness commit, your honour?’ asked one of the counsels. Garagoosh’s reply was final, ‘Because he has interfered in what doesn’t concern him!’
Hukum garagoosh. The judgment of Garagoosh.
This short expression is used when a peculiar or tyrannical judgment has been passed. The litigious nature of Sudanese society helps to account for why this Arabic saying about a judge called Garagoosh is commonly used.
There are numerous stories about him such as that of Garagoosh although few can be as bizarre as that concerning a pregnant woman: It once happened that a soldier collided with a farmer’s pregnant wife as he rushed to climb onto one of the small boats that ferry people across the Nile. The incident resulted in the poor woman having a miscarriage. After the farmer brought a legal case against the soldier, the parties appeared before Garagoosh to set out their case. Garagoosh decreed that the soldier take the peasant’s wife to his house until she was pregnant again, and that after she had been pregnant for seven months she should return to her husband. “Oh my great master! I withdraw my complaints, and entrust my case to God and his justice,” was all that the flabbergasted farmer could plead.
Another story relates how a creditor went to Garagoosh to complain that his debtor had failed to repay the sum loaned to him. In mitigation, the debtor explained that although he was a poor man he had endeavoured to repay the creditor. However, he had been unable to find the man when the money was in his pocket, and by the time they met the money had been spent. In response Garagoosh passed judgement that the creditor should be gaoled so that the debtor would know the place to hand over the money! On hearing the sentence the creditor didn’t hestitate to forgive the debtor all the money he had borrowed!