Rumble: Translator of Nightmares

I read hundreds of articles and blog entries about Darfur. Few have impacted me as much as this article, covering a book, "The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur" written by Daoud Hari.

Daoud Hari is a Dafur tribes man who assisted journalists travelling in his region as a translator. A translator of horror stories.

Sleepless during nights of exile in Chad, Daoud Hari stared at cracks in his room's mud walls. The lines formed random shapes that reminded him of drawings from thousands of years ago -- of horned beasts, of women, men and children. He had seen them in the cool mountain caves of Darfur, where he played as a boy. They triggered an urge to sketch scenes of the savagery and starvation he had witnessed in the once-tranquil lands of his childhood.

During those uneasy nights, he picked up pencil and paper to turn his torment into tolerable numbness.

He drew the woman who had hanged herself from a tree with her shawl because she could not feed her children. Hari had found their tiny corpses around her, their skin like "delicate brown paper, so wrinkled."

He drew the story he had heard of a militiaman lowering his bayonet into the belly of a 4-year-old girl as she ran toward him, impaling her. The gunman pranced around as her blood drained down upon him.

He remembered the girl's father, his sobbing, his horror, his shock: "What was he? A man? A devil? He was painted red with my little girl's blood and he was dancing. What was he?"

His wakeful consciousness felt the pain of these images. His drawings, he says, were "stick pictures of scenes I needed to get out of my head. History. History. History. The people. The little girl. The woman," he says in his memoir, "The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur." (Full)

Here is an interview with Daoud Hari on BBC:

More posts on The Road about Darfur.
More recommended books from The Road.

Picture courtesy Jahi Chikwendiu (The Washington Post)


Voegtli 14 May, 2008 04:30  

The little excerpt from that book is impressive and horrifying. I am sure it is an interesting book. I doubt though that I will buy it or read it. Having gone through 4 years of Darfur, seen nice and not so nice things, I don't want to add more turmoil to my mind.

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