The Translator. A tribesman's memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari

The Translator. A tribesman's memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari
Usually, I don’t remember the first sentence of the book despite the common opinion that it is very important for a book but this beginning with an African proverb is will stay with me forever.

If God must break your leg, He will at least teach you to limp. - so it said in Africa. This book is my poor limping, amidst account that cannot tell every story that deserves telling.

The Translator. A tribesman’s memoir of Darfur is a memoir of some events in the life of the author, Daoud Hari, who was working as a translator and a guide for journalists in Sudan.

He comes from Zaghawa tribe in the Darfur region of Sudan, where he grew up by racing camels and playing together with Muslim nomads passing endless deserts of Darfur. His peaceful village life abruptly finished when in 2003 the government helicopters gunned down the villagers and Arabs militia, backed by the government, came to murder, rape and burn tribespeople homes in order for them to leave the land of Darfur. Some take a long trek into neighbouring Chad, which is also Darfur territory and some land in a refugee camp along the borders with Chad. When international aid arrived in place, Daoud Hari began to work as a translator. This memoir written in English (which is not Hari’s mother tongue) is an attempt to describe the horror and injustice in Sudan lead for last 29 years by the government of Omar al-Bashir. We learn from this memoir that Bin Laden’s first bombing was within Africa as per the invitation of Bashir. There are so many rebel forces than even a tribesman can have a difficulty to find out on which side they stand but Daoud’s inside into tribespeople life is vital. He tries to arrange a safe meeting with journalists like there would be any guaranty for that. The truth is that there is no army, no law to protect tribespeople in Darfur. There are only horror and people dying every day, mothers with daughters in the villages in order to protect their men go to pick up wood, knowing that they will be raped by the rebels. Yet this way they spare the lives of their husbands and sons who would be killed instead.

The genocide in Darfur began in 2003, to find out more read Human Rights Watch LINK https://www.hrw.org/africa/sudan, and as author say we learn nothing from Rwanda, the world still refuses to get involved.

“Did you know that Darfur was a great country long ago, so great that it was both in Sudan and also in Chad? Did you know that the French, who later controlled Chad, and the British, who later controlled Sudan, drew a line, putting half of Darfur in each new nation? Did you know that? What do you care about this line if you are Darfur men? What business is it of yours if the British and the French draw lines on maps? What does it have to do with the fact that we are brothers?”

Daoud Hari story is readable, with a bit of humor it reminds us that Darfur used to be a happy place to live and with a bit of hope that this nightmare can end. This is a very important book to read and to learn about conflict and what is more important it is told by the person who seems to survived many lives but for sure long tortures and imprisonment in Sudan.

As for the future, the only way that the world can say no to genocide is to make sure that the people of Darfur are returned to their homes and given protection. If the world allows the people of Darfur to be removed forever from their land and their way of life, then genocide will happen elsewhere because it will be seen as something that works. It must not be allowed to work. The people of Darfur need to go home now.

Reviewer: Monika Barrera
Review rating: 5/5
Date published: 2008
Publisher: Penguin Group
Language: English
Genre: memoir, Nonfiction, Africa
ISBN 978-0-141-03700-4