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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a gem, 28 May 2009
A. Chang - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur (Paperback)
I understand the Darfur situation much more after reading Daoud Hari's account of his experiences. No amount of news or analysis from 'experts' could have brought me to the ground level, so to speak, as his book did. Feeling every bead of sweat, every sense of doom, and the suffering and desperation of the villagers. But it is also a story full of wisdom, wit, and ironic humour that moved very briskly and never became maudlin or hateful. That is the true magic of the book. It brought me to tears several times, then it brought me suddenly to laughter, then gently into the world of dreams and ancestors, of friendship, family and love, stretching across the unyielding desert, then the valleys and hills, and acacia trees, and it brought me to the restful village life, the custom of sitting down to tea to replenish the soul, friendly camels and devoted donkeys, and the little child waving. All this would break into episodes of horror and violence and barbarity that are the realities of Darfur. And just when I believe in nothing but human cruelty and despair, he turns the story and teases the imagination with tales of courage, hope, and survival. His dreams are particularly powerful and seductive (that is, when he is able to sleep!) as they awaken the spirits of loved ones recently departed, particularly his brothers, as if to say 'you are bigger than your suffering'. It's clear the politics in Darfur is a tangled web with rebels, and 'turncoat' rebels, and Chadian hospitality and complicity at the same time, and the dominion of evil and good shifting like the sands. The innocents are crushed in this mad conflict. When friends and brothers part and say 'see you again soon', it is a sly reference to heaven. Hari's kind and artful brush that lovingly washes over the territory of Sudan touches also the aid workers and foreign reporters he met. His affection for them is obvious and very endearing, especially for Nicolas Kristof: Nick looked like a man who gets into trouble. So I went with him.

The book is speckled with little gems of wisdom like these:
... You have to be stronger than your fears if you want to get anything done in this life.
... You have to find a way to laugh a little bit each day despite everything, or your heart will simply run out of the joy that makes it go.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book needs to be read, 17 Jun. 2008
DubaiReader "MaryAnne" (Rowlands Castle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur (Paperback)
This is one of those mind-blowing books that should be read by everyone.

Daoud Hari has seen his village desecrated, many friends and relatives needlessly killed and his family exiled as refugees in neighbouring Chad, - all because the government of Sudan is turning Arab against native African to clear the land ready to develop it for oil.
These people were friends, they ate in each other's huts - and now they are killing one another, manipulated like characters in a computer game.
This scenario has been repeated hundreds, even thousands of times throughout the villages and towns of Darfur. Young lads are becoming rebels because they have nowhere else to go; the rebel armies replace their lost families and quench their thirst for revenge.

Daoud Hari uses his skills in languages and his many contacts, as his weapons in the fight against this genocide.
He travels into Darfur to escort journalists and NGO representatives. His mission is to show this devastation to the world, in the hope that we can do something to stop it. He has risked his life many times. Ultimately he had to leave and continue his fight in America, where he now tours with on the 'Voices from Darfour' tour.

Read this book - pass it around - speak out.
This genocide needs to be stopped - NOW.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb plea on behalf of Darfur, 25 Oct. 2014
This review is from: The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur (Paperback)
Occasionally shocking, but riveting and highly readable personal account of the scandal called Darfur by Daoud, member of the Zaghawa, an ethnic group straddling the border between Sudan and Chad. It is (mostly) a chronological account of what happened to them and himself between 2003 and late 2005. Daoud, working from Chad, quickly establishes himself as a resourceful and reliable translator for newsmen and human rights researchers in Chad’s refugee camps or for forays into Darfur. His sixth trip, with a reporter from "National Geographic" is the beginning of the end of Daoud ever working in Chad or Sudan again.
Daoud has an engaging, inclusive writing style, sometimes laconic, sometimes invoking his faith or the international community , to undo or correct the gross injustice and unspeakable cruelties. He also turns briefly to his readers in many chapters with rhetorical questions or explanations. And the way he describes his Zaghawa people, its five sultanates is quite engaging. In the rest of Darfur and Chad they are seen as smarter than good for them, better planners, risk spreaders, networkers and businessmen. Readers will soon notice his mentioning his many cousins and nieces in London, Cairo, Ndjamena, etc: the Zaghawa diaspora. Will they remain united when attacked from the air and ethnically cleansed on the ground by Sudan’s military and Darfur Arabs’ Janjaweed killers and looters?
This reader has spent some 18 very pleasant months in Darfur when it was peaceful and bustling with trade, ethnic diversity and optimism. That world is gone, most probably and regrettably, forever.
Daoud soon became an object of interest to Chad’s internal security as well as Sudan’s and miraculously survived arrest in Sudan, was extricated from there to Chad, then to the US, where he wrote this account. His book has several messages. First, deal quickly with acts of genocide as in Rwanda or Darfur in law courts, lest the practice spreads. Secondly, he predicts that given the Sudan government’s policy of clearing oil- or gold-rich areas of its people, it will continue the emptying rural Darfur by fuelling conflict among traditional pastoral Arab tribes in Darfur. Seven years later, Daoud’s predictions seem to come true with plenty of strife about tribal borders and lots of illegal gold mining of which 90% is smuggled abroad…
This review is only a pale endorsement for the rich testimony Daoud Hari wrote about his struggle for justice on behalf of the victims of the scandal called Darfur
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4.0 out of 5 stars moving first hand insight into Darfur, 6 Aug. 2011
This review is from: The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur (Paperback)
Daoud Hari is a Zaghawa tribesman from Darfur who became a translator for journalists and the UN during the Darfur genocide. The book reads very easily, it's essentially a transcript of Daoud talking about his experiences and his journey. This simple telling of the tale keeps it personal, light and exudes a warmth that helps deal with some absolutely shocking events.

I wonder what you reaction is as you read this account of a man telling Daoud what had happened to him (warning this is uncomfortable stuff):

`Everybody ran away as fast as they could. My wife over there held our two-year old son tightly in her arms, and she ran one way through the bushes. Thank God she found a good way to go. I took my four-year old daughter, Amma, and we ran as fast as we could another way around the bushes. They caught me, the Janjaweed, and I let go of her hand and told her to run. But she didn't keep running; she watched from bushes as they beat me and tied me to a tree with my arms back around it like this' (making a hoop behind his back).

`One of the Janjaweed men started to kill me in a painful way. My daughter could not bear to see this, so she ran towards me and called out, Abba, Abba.' These words, which mean `Daddy, daddy,' filled his throat with emotion, and he paused a long time.

`The Janjaweed man who had tied me to the tree saw my daughter running to me. He lowered his rifle and he let her run into his bayonet. He gave it a big push. The blade went all the way through her stomach. She still cried out to me, `Abba! Abba!' Then he lifted up his gun, with my daughter on it, with blood from her body pouring down all over him. He danced around with her in the air and shouted to his friends, `Look, see how fierce I am,' and they chanted back to him, `Yes, yes, you are fierce, fierce, fierce!' as they were killing other people. My daughter looked at me for help and stretched her arms in great pain toward me. She tried to say Abba but nothing came out.

`It took a long time for her to die, her blood coming down so fresh and red on this - what was he? A man? A devil? He was painted red with my little girl's blood and he was dancing. What was he?'

This man had seen evil and didn't know what to do with the sight of it. He was looking for an answer to what it was, and why his little daughter deserved this. Then, after taking some time to cry without talking, he told me he no longer knew who he was." (p82-82)

How did you react? Me, tears and real anger. I was moved by the events in Darfur in a way, that to my shame, I was not moved at the time and listening to the voice of this gentle African both informed and sometimes instructed. I love this throwaway comment about the place of TV in our lives.

"If you live in a small town, you know a great deal about the families who live there. If your town had no television or other things to take you away from visiting all the time, your town could be very large and you would still know something about everyone. So it is like that." (emphasis added)

The book contains many off hand insights from Africa into contemporary life and is just one of the reasons that this is a fascinating book. Simply put for first hand insight into the events that took place in Darfur start here.
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The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur
The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari (Paperback - 5 Jun. 2008)
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