Sunday, February 17, 2008

Book Review: The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari

"It says everything about this land to know that even the mountains are not to be trusted, and that the crunching sound under your camel's hooves are usually human bones, hidden and revealed as the wind pleases."

How many ways can you write about the horror of genocide? It doesn't matter if a first person account of genocide is compelling or well-written. What matters is that you read it and help stop the suffering.

The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur is compelling — even poetic:
The animals were wild-eyed with fear, and the donkeys screamed an brayed. I did not see where the bullets were going, but little songbirds flew down from the trees, confused and worried. They perched on my shoulders and then hid in the folds of my robes and shawl. But then I saw they were falling dead from me, their hearts broken by this noise.
It is heartbreaking:
Every day these same girls and women collected wood for their cooking fires by scavenging sticks from the surrounding wild areas. Thes areas were quickly stripped, angering the local tribes and forcing foraging trips ever deeper into dangerous territory. As a consequence, rape was now the going price of camp firewood. If the women sent their men to gather wood if they came along as protection, the men would be killed. So the women and girls went alone and in small groups, often to be raped by the local men. . . Mass pregnancies of unwanted children were the next tragedy facing these women.
It is political:
The world's charity seemed almost invisible here. Perhaps the wealthy nations had finally blown themselves away and were no longer available to send their usual token remedies for the problems that their thirst for resources had always brought to such people as these.
Why isn't fuel sent with the food that is donated so that women and girls don't have to suffer rape?
Three young girls in another tent also much gather firewood. The oldest of these if fourteen. The youngest, maybe nine, wears a dusty black shawl that covers her head like a hood to hide her face. She never looks up and it seems she is willing herself into the sand. They have been raped many times, but they need to go back again soon for more fuel. They cry to talk about it.
Read The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur. Feel the horror. Fight back.
She was about thirty years old. When her village was attacked by the Janjaweed, she and her two daughters and son — the oldest was six years old — were held for a week. The mother was raped repeatedly. They released the mother and her children in the desert far from any villages. That was probably cheaper than using bullets on them, or else they wanted their seeds to grow inside her. She walked for five days in the desert carrying her children without food or water. When she couldn't carry them anymore, she sat under a tree that she found. There was nothing she could do except watch her children die. She took her shawl — and tied it to a high branch in order to end her life. We found her that same day, a few hours too late.
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1 comment:

  1. The horror of Darfur is completely unimaginable. I have no words to comment on this.

    I am aware of the situation, but I do not think I could bring myself to read this book. Thanks for sharing it with those of us less courageous than yourself.

    Have you heard of the charity called Darfur Stoves? I wrote about it on my blog last summer. They provide more fuel efficient stoves for the refugees so their firewood lasts much, much longer and the need to gather it outside the camp is less frequent. It is a small thing, but at least it is something.

    The link is:


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