Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival

Okay, I’m aware that I’m bad at this. But I’m not really interested in becoming a critic/reviewer, so it doesn’t really matter now, does it? Of course, I’m sure many of you are wondering why I continue to write these little book reports if I know I suck at them and here’s the answer: It’s a writing exercise. Just to keep me in the habit of writing *something.* And maybe to inspire you to read what I read.

Title: Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival

Authors: Jen Marlowe with Aisha Bain and Adam Shapiro

Synopsis: This is a story about the strength and resilience of Darfurians. Jen Marlowe, Aisha Bain and Adam Shapiro decided to travel to Darfur to make a documentary about the war and apparent genocide taking place there. Their hope was that they could give a voice to Darfurians, who until that point, had not been heard. They visited refugee camps in Chad, as well as villages that had been destroyed in Darfur. They interviewed refugees, displaced persons within Darfur and even members of the Sudan Liberation Army (a rebel group in opposition to the Sudanese government).

Things That Upset Me: At one point in the book, I shamefully admit that I found myself getting bored. I was thinking, “Okay, Jen, we get it. The government comes in and bombs a village with their Antonovs and then sends in the Janjaweed to take out the people. The people that aren’t killed hide out in a ravine or something and are now in danger of starving to death. What else?” The first time the authors interviewed someone who told this story I was appalled. The attacks were so organized and they were coming from the government, which is typically supposed to protect its people. By the fifth time hearing it, I was numbed to the implications and ready to move on. When I realized that that was happening, I made myself sit down with it again and think about what it really meant. Not only were these attacks by the government organized, they were systematic. They were happening EVERYWHERE. The government isn’t even trying to be subtle. And that’s when I got angry that even when the government was being this blatantly obvious about the genocide they’re committing, they can still get away with saying that it isn’t happening and none of the rest of the international community seems to be able to do anything about it (to be fair, people are trying to do something, but of course there have been setbacks as well as progress).

Things That Amused Me: I’m all for the African Union – it sounds like a really good idea and I hope they can actually make it work – but seriously, a unified currency called the Afro? Does anyone else find that just a little bit funny?

Things That Touched Me: I think that the authors did a really excellent job of showing not only the atrocities and tragedies that had befallen Darfurians, but also their spirit and vitality. The things Darfurians have faced (and still are facing) have the potential to crush a person, to sap the will to live out of someone. But in the interviews and some of the other scenes, we see Darfurians’ fortitude and commitment to their survival, their dedication to educating their children and even their sense of humor. Even after all that has happened, they can still find something to laugh about. I think this says a great deal about Darfurians and also life in general – it will always find a way.

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