Memories of Sudan


Camels in the Sahara. Photo by James L. Stanfield, NGS.


Sudan is in the news again, sadly as the result of another humanitarian crisis. Just a few years ago, the people of the western area known as Darfur endured a period of genocide, and one native, Daoud Hari, recounted his experiences of that time in The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur.

The Translator, by Daoud Hari

Hari grew up in a family of cattle herders and relates charming stories of his childhood in the village, where he kept a pet camel named Kelgi, crediting camels with being courageous and loyal creatures. However, unlike his siblings, Hari is given an opportunity to pursue his education beyond the village and tells of falling in love with the classics of English literature such as Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist.

Despite the danger, he eventually returns to his homeland during the 2003 conflict in order to use his translation skills to help his people. Speaking Arabic, English, and his native Zaghawa, over the course of a few weeks he helped interview 1,134 people who had suffered unspeakable horrors. Although aware that the subject matter may deter some readers, he eloquently urges us: “…you must let me take you into some of these tents…It is a hard story, of course, but there are many parts that I think will surprise you and make you very happy that you came with me.”

For more information on Daoud Hari and his book, please check out his website on Random House.


The Darfur region is near Sudan's border with Chad. (Map of Sudan, courtesy of U.S. State Department.)



Human Journey