The Translator, A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur
by Daoud Hari
Random House; March 18, 2008
Daoud, a man who was born into the Zhagawa tribe in Darfur, has a story to tell. It is such an important story that he has walked with death as his companion, over and over again, to be able to tell it.
"I am dead, I am dead, this is how I died, it is not so bad, I was thinking, afraid to look down at my body because too many bullets were flying around for me still to be okay." (Page 56)
I have no story to tell here, only to convey to you if I can, why reading Daoud's story may be the most important thing you can do today, or this year. You may ask yourself, as I did, how could anyone possibly live with imminent death, and scenes of death around them. Hari gives a hint of it:
"The gun muzzle was hot against my temple. Had he fired it recently, or was it just hot from the sun? I decided that if these were about to be my last thoughts, I should try some better ones instead. So I thought about my family and how I loved them..." (Page 8)
Daoud has an exceptional gift for showing the reader his world as though they were walking in his shoes. His simple words struck so deeply into my heart, that I could only travel with him a few pages at a time. He committed himself to fight for the lives of his people with words at a time when his peers were trading their possessions for guns and joining a militia.
Daoud explains his motivation to keep on working to show the world what is happening in Darfur in the introduction to his book:
"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." (Page x)
Let Daoud explain in his own words why the atrocities in Darfur matter to you. He cannot fulfill his mission without you, his reader. Once I read The Translator, A Tribesman's Memoir, I saw that it is not happening "to them" "over there". It is happening here, to us.
We are all Zaghawa now.