The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur

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I am the translator who has taken journalists into dangerous Darfur. It is my intention now to take you there in this book, if you have the courage to come with me.

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 under way in Darfur.

The Translator is a suspenseful, harrowing, and deeply moving memoir of how one person has made a difference in the world–an on-the-ground account 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 had collided, and the conflagration spread.

Though Hari’s village was attacked and destroyedhis 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 the 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.

From the Hardcover edition.
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About the author

Daoud Hari was born in the Darfur region of Sudan. After escaping an attack on his village, he entered the refugee camps in Chad and began serving as a translator for major news organizations including The New York Times, NBC, and the BBC, as well as the United Nations and other aid groups. He now lives in the United States and was part of's Voices from Darfur tour.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Additional Information

Random House
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Published on
Mar 18, 2008
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Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Biography & Autobiography / Political
Political Science / International Relations / General
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Content Protection
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Eligible for Family Library

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Halima Bashir
Like the single white eyelash that graces her row of dark lashes–seen by her people as a mark of good fortune–Halima Bashir’s story stands out. Tears of the Desert is the first memoir ever written by a woman caught up in the war in Darfur. It is a survivor’s tale of a conflicted country, a resilient people, and the uncompromising spirit of a young woman who refused to be silenced.

Born into the Zaghawa tribe in the Sudanese desert, Halima was doted on by her father, a cattle herder, and kept in line by her formidable grandmother. A politically astute man, Halima’s father saw to it that his daughter received a good education away from their rural surroundings. Halima excelled in her studies and exams, surpassing even the privileged Arab girls who looked down their noses at the black Africans. With her love of learning and her father’s support, Halima went on to study medicine, and at twenty-four became her village’s first formal doctor.

Yet not even the symbol of good luck that dotted her eye could protect her from the encroaching conflict that would consume her land. Janjaweed Arab militias started savagely assaulting the Zaghawa, often with the backing of the Sudanese military. Then, in early 2004, the Janjaweed attacked Bashir’s village and surrounding areas, raping forty-two schoolgirls and their teachers. Bashir, who treated the traumatized victims, some as young as eight years old, could no longer remain quiet. But breaking her silence ignited a horrifying turn of events.

In this harrowing and heartbreaking account, Halima Bashir sheds light on the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives being eradicated by what is fast becoming one of the most terrifying genocides of the twenty-first century. Raw and riveting, Tears of the Desert is more than just a memoir–it is Halima Bashir’s global call to action.

From the Hardcover edition.
Daoud Hari
Daoud Hari sah mit eigenen Augen, wie die Dörfer seiner Heimat im Westen Sudans von Reitermilizen überfallen und von Kampfflugzeugen zerstört wurden, wie seine Geschwister vertrieben und getötet wurden. Er selbst konnte sich in den Tschad retten und fand seine Lebensaufgabe: die Worte der über 2,5 Millionen Flüchtlinge in Darfur jenen zu übersetzen, die über die »schlimmste humanitäre Katastrophe der Welt« (UNO) berichten.

»Ich bin der Übersetzer, der Journalisten nach Darfur gebracht hat. In diesem Buch möchte ich Sie mitnehmen, wenn Sie den Mut haben, mich zu begleiten.« Daoud Hari vom Stamm der Zaghawa verließ seine Familie, um die Schule zu besuchen, lernte Arabisch und Englisch. Er reiste illegal nach Ägypten und Israel, um Geld zu verdienen, wurde aufgegriffen und nach Darfur zurückgeschickt. Das Wiedersehen in der Heimat sollte kurz sein: Sein Dorf wurde, wie unzählige andere, ausgelöscht. Statt wie viele seiner Freunde zum Gewehr zu greifen und sich einer Rebellengruppe anzuschließen, tat Hari das, was er konnte: zuhören. Vom Tschad aus führte er Journalisten aus Europa und den Vereinigten Staaten über die Grenze in die gefährlichsten Gebiete Darfurs. Zusammen mit internationalen Beobachtern sprach er in Flüchtlingslagern mit Hunderten von Menschen und übersetzte ihre Geschichten. Im August 2006 verhaftete man ihn und einen Reporter der Chicago Tribune, bezichtigte ihn der Spionage, verhörte ihn unter Folter und drohte ihm mit Exekution. Über einen Monat später konnte er befreit werden. In seinem Buch erzählt er von Begegnungen mit dem Tod, aber auch von der unwiderstehlichen Weisheit, der Liebe und dem beinahe unzerstörbaren Humor seiner Landsleute.

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