darfur

Photo courtesy of John Fenzel

I’m a firm believer that sticking your head in the sand gets you nowhere in life. With that said, I wanted to share a gut retching passage from The Translator that sheds some light on just how ugly this world can be. The memoir, written by Daoud Hari, takes you into the heart of the Darfur genocide through the eyes of a “translator” (Daoud) who helped journalists navigate the landscape as a guide. If you want to keep your head in the sand about what has occured in Darfur, that’s your decision. And if that’s you, I’d urge you to click back on your browser right now and not read the excerpt below as it’s one of the most gruesome passages I’ve ever read. I thought I’d share it for two reasons. 1) To educate people about the atrocities in Darfur and 2) so that I have a permanent record online that I can find later of this powerful reminder of the impact wars have on those they touch.

For background, during his time guiding journalists through the camps of Darfur and Chad, Daoud regularly heard stories of horrible atrocities from victims of the Darfur genocide. But the passage below from one victim he came across is particularly terrible and stood out in his mind:

One of the Janjaweed men started to kill me in a painful way. My daughter could not bear to see this, so she ran toward me and called, ‘Abba, Abba.’ These words, which mean ‘Daddy, Daddy,’ filled his throat with emotion, and he paused a long time.

The Janjaweed man who had tied me to the tree saw my daughter running to me. He lowered his rifle and he let her run into his bayonet. He gave it a big push. The blade went all the way through her stomach. She still cried out to me, ‘Abba! Abba!’

Then he lifted up his gun, with my daughter on it, with blood from her body pouring down all over him. He danced around with her in the air and shouted to his friends, ‘Look, see how fierce I am,’ and they chanted back to him, ‘Yes, yes, you are fierce, fierce, fierce!’ as they were killing other people. My daughter looked at me for help and stretched her arms in great pain toward me. She tried to say Abba but nothing came out.

It took a long time for her to die, her blood coming down so fresh and red on this — what was he? a man? a devil? He was painted red with my little girl’s blood and he was dancing. What was he?

It’s sad this kind of thing really happens in this world, but nothing will ever change if stories like this are not brought to light. In the acknowledgements of the book, Daoud finishes with this paragraph:

If i can presume some bond of friendship between us, my reader friend, let me ask you to think of the fact that tonight as i Write this, and probably as you read this, people are still being killed in Darfur, and people are still suffering in these camps. The leaders of the world can solve this problem, and the people of Darfur can go home, if the leaders see that people everywhere care deeply enough to talk to them about this. So, if you have the time, perhaps you can do so. For it has no meaning to take risks for news stories unless the people who read them will act.

If you want to help improve the situation in Darfur, here are some resources.