Review: The Translator

The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur – Daoud Hari

From the book jacket –

The young life of Daoud Hari – his friends call him David – has been one of bravery and mesmerizing adventure.  He is a living witness to the brutal genocide underway in Darfur.

The Translatoris a suspenseful, harrowing, and deeply moving memoir of how one person has made a difference in the world – an on-the-ground accent of one of the biggest stories of our time.  Using his high school knowledge of languages as his weapon – while others around him were taking up arms – Daoud Hari has helped inform the world about Darfur. 

Hari, a Zaghawa tribesman, grew up in a village in the Darfur region of Sudan.  As a child he saw colorful weddings, raced his camels across the desert, and played games in the moonlight after his work was done.  In 2003, this traditional life was shattered when helicopter gunships appeared over Darfur’s villages, followed by Sudanese-government-backed militia groups attacking on horseback, raping and murdering citizens and burning villages.  Ancient hatreds and greed for natural resources has collided, and the conflagration spread. 

Though Hari’s village was attacked and destroyed, his family decimated and dispersed, he himself escaped.  Roaming the battlefield deserts on camels, he and a group of his friends helped survivors find food, water, and the way to safety.  When international aid groups and reporters arrived, Hari offered his services as a translator and guide.  In doing so, he risked his life again and again, for the government of Sudan had outlawed journalists in the region, and death was punishment for those who aided the “foreign spies”. 

And then, inevitably, his luck ran out, and he was captured…

The Translator tells the remarkable story of a man who came face-to-face with genocide – time and again risking his own life to fight injustice and save his people.

My thoughts –

I am SO grateful to Natasha, and her reading and blogging for Darfur campaign, for introducing me to this book and gently pushing me to read it.  What an amazing story this one is.  It’s hard to believe, to really wrap your mind around, but the truth of the matter is that there is an actual genocide happening on the other side of the world, RIGHT NOW.  As I type this, people are being slaughtered, villages are being burned, and women and children are being raped and tortured in the most horrific and sickening of ways. 

As terrifying as that is to think about, Daoud Hari lived it, and then actively decided to continue living it, in pursuit of a greater good.  Hari was so concerned about the world knowing what was going on in his country, so concerned about getting the word out, that he literally risked his life to assist journalists from all over the world, with the small hope that with his assistance, some help for his countrymen would arrive.  The word “admirable” doesn’t even begin to describe what Hari has done for his country and for his people – it is beyond any words to describe. 

This is the type of book we all need to read.  Not because it’s good to feel so disgusted and upset with our human race, or because we necessarily need to be reminded of the atrocities that people commit, but because this is not a work of fiction, it’s not a historical novel, it is REAL LIFE and it’s happening this exact moment.  We need to know that this is going on so that we can do something – I encourage you to check out Natasha’s campaign (links above) and, at the very least, educate yourself on what’s going on in Darfur.  Even better, contribute to her cause by sponsoring her or reading about Darfur yourself.  It’s never too late to help.

Read this book, though.  It is so worth it.

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