Monday, August 22, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - THE TRANSLATOR: A TRIBESMAN'S MEMOIR OF DARFUR

I came across this dog-eared copy at one of those Rm5 book fairs I love so dearly. 

Since then, it has become of my favourite books.


The author, Daoud Hari, was born into a respected and revered family in the plains of Darfur in Sudan. His family was considered immensely wealthy - they lived in sturdy comfortable tents and owned several herds of cattle as well as substantial stretches of land which they farmed and made a living. His father was a highly respected figure within the tribe, with conflicts and arguments being brought before him to resolve.

Daoud had the privilege of attending school and went to University in Eygpt - his first time away from his country and family - where he was first exposed to western culture by way of movies, newspapers, television. It is also where he started learning English. 

Throughout his time at university, his family kept imploring him to return. However, he was hesitant - hungering for more of the world and what lay beyond the plains of Sudan, a life beyond being tending to cattle, beyond claiming a wife, beyond fathering children and raising a family.

***

After he completed university, a war broke out in Sudan. The UN was looking for translators and guides to navigate the warzone so they could broadcast the happenings to the world. Daoud heard of their plight and volunteered himself to go. Together with UN journalist Paul Salopek and driver Ali, they traverse the crossfire in a trusty battered 4WD - often going into fierce battlezones to collect stories and accounts of the war.

Throughout his journey, Daoud took on the alias of Suleyman Abakar Moussa from Chad to protect himself as the war was hostile to Sudan and its people.

Written with dry humour and refreshing candour in simple yet impactful manner, the book tells of his experiences as a child and then of his role as a UN guide and translator.

Of the many words, chapters, and pages within the entire book ; it is these brief sentences which resound with me the most. 

   " My family wanted me to return home, to tend our cattle, inherit our land, and marry a girl they would choose for me - and a part of me thought I would like for that as well. "

   " However, a bigger part of me wanted to see the world, to forge my own fate, and choose my own bride - and hopefully have her choose me too. "





No comments:

Post a Comment