Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Translator - Daoud Hari

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. In 2003, this traditional life was shattered when helicopter gunships appeared over Darfur’s villages, followed by Sudanese-government-backed militia groups raping and murdering citizens and burning villages. He has worked as a language interpreter and guide for NGO's and the press on fact-finding trips into the war-torn and dangerous Darfur area. Hari was captured and detained by the government of Sudan as a spy in August 2006 along with Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Paul Salopek and their Chadian driver Abdulraham Anu (aka "Ali"). During their months-long ordeal all three men were severely beaten and deprived. Upon their successful release - after an international outcry from US diplomats, the US military, Bono and even the Pope - Hari moved to the US where be began work on his memoirs to help bring further world attention to the plight of his people and country.

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.

The book was written with Dennis Burke and Megan McKenna, based on hours of interviews with Daoud. Megan originally met Daoud in Darfur, where she had traveled as part of the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, and she was one of the people who helped in the fight to bring Daoud to the United States. The author acknowledges with gratitude these contributions and also the efforts of other individuals – including several with direct experience of the events described – who reviewed portions of the book in manuscript. In Daoud's own words, “The story I am telling here is based on my memories of a time of great difficulty and confusion. I have done my best to capture the details of my experiences, and to set them down here accurately and to the utmost of my recollection, and I am grateful to those who have helped me focus and occasionally correct my account. Of course, no two people can view the same event in the same way, and I know that others will have their own tales to tell. Surely these collective tales will add up to the truth of the tragedy in Darfur.”

You can read an excerpt from the book here. There is also an interview with the writer on You Tube.

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