Both Sides Now: Mediators




elaborate on story of Franklins and Taylors I’ve gotten in lots of trouble in my life trying to mend things between folks. I have a good story about bringing two rural families together at school to end a long-running feud that had started over a deer stand. The children of each family kept fighting at school so I decided to bring the parents in and help solve the problem. The two fathers who were big men , Mule Taylor and James Franklin, hadn’t been in my office for five minutes when they were up in each other’s faces. The women began screaming at each other. It wasn’t my brightest moment as a mediator but the story had a happy ending. I should’ve learned better. When I visit Rhino Camp, I’m going to find Simon and Jimmy. The three of us are going to sit down over a pot of African tea and visit. I met both of them last week at the border. The South Sudan/Ugandan border. Simon, a Dinka Bor, told me his sad story of leaving the fighting behind to escape. I asked what other tribes were present. “Mostly we’re Dinka.” He nodded toward a mango tree. “Those people are Nuer.” “Are they your enemies?” Simon looked at me. “I guess not, but they are Nuer.” Leaving the camp, I went to the tree and introduced myself to a young man with the distinctive forehead scars that identify the Nuer. His name was Jimmy and his family had fled from Unity State, the source of much of South Sudan’s oil as well as recent violence. I have his name. Lord willing, I’ll find both of them. Simon and Jimmy. I’m determined to get them together. Just the three of us. I’ve seen a pot of hot of coffee and buttered biscuits mend a church split. I wonder if sweet African tea and fresh chapattis might do the same. Stay tuned.

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