Tears Of The Desert A Memoir of Survival In Darfur is, as anyone who knows anything about what's happening in Darfur, a powerful non-fiction novel about the horrors people living in that region of Africa are experiencing. Halima Bashir (with journalist Damien Lewis), the author of Tears Of The Desert, lived in Darfur up until she was able to escape in 2006. Bashir recounts her life as a little girl growing up in a happy, loving family in Darfur, excelling in school (just going to school was a major difficulty), and the horrors that she had gone through (both physically and mentally) before she was miraculasly able to escape.
I'd first heard about Tears Of The Desert (which was first released in early or mid 2008) about a month ago while watching the Today Show one morning. Over the next couple of weeks I tried to find it at local book stores, but after not finding it (and asking for it by name) in four big box book stores, I ordered it from Amazon. I mention this because I think it is sad that a book of this importance wasn't stocked at the four book stores I went to here in town (Vegas, a city of something like 2 million people). I might be out of Maus or Watchmen for a week or two at most, but I can direct people to a store within five miles from mine in which a person could purchase either of those books instead of waiting for me to have it back in stock. I realize that "regular" book stores have way more titles competing for shelf space than comic stores do, but for four big stores in a big metro city to not have Tears Of The Desert in stock, makes me understand why some of them are experiencing difficult times and why more people are turning to Amazon instead of supporting their local markets.
Anyway, I wanted to read Tears Of The Desert because while I knew that horrible things were happening in Darfur, I wanted to read a personal account, such as this novel by Halima Bashir, to get a better understanding and context for why this is happening. I'd have to say that I, like Halima Bashir, still don't really understand why this genocide is happening (besides the age old "reason" of one group of people not liking another group of people and or the desire to have those people's land), other than to more fully appreciate that an end to these atrocities is of the utmost importance because too many have already lost their lives and too many people are living in horrid conditions. As many regular readers of this blog or people who know me are already aware, I'm drawn to stories (be they in graphic novel, book, or movie form) about the Holocaust. Sadly nothing can be done to undo the Holocaust, but the world should have learned from the Holocaust that genocide should never happen again. It's also true, sadly, that history just about also repeats, but action needs to occur in Darfur to cease this horrible cycle of history to repeat.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTSaD-XLuBk&eurl=http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2008/12/the-save-darfur-coalitions-be-a-voice-for-darfur-a-brilliant-multichannel-campaign.&feature=player_embeddedThis youtube link is a great call to action that any one of us can easily do to give a voice to those whose voices aren't being heard. The simplest thing to do is write a postcard to President Obama titled "Save Darfur, end the genocide" adding your voice proclaiming that the end of this genocide should be amongst the top priorities of this administation. Address postcards to President Obama, c/o: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. 20500.
One fact that I was unaware of until I read the epilogue of Tears Of The Desert is China's blocking a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions on Darfur, as they support the Sudanese regime (and China also supplies arms to these agressors). Why is this true? Oil, is the answer sadly. I need to do more research on China's role in what's going on in Darfur before I make up my mind as to what action I'll take regarding my findings in relation to China, but I can already guess that the U.S. hasn't looked into this probably because of the increasing amounts of debt that we as a country now owe China. Certainly the Chinese people are unaware of China's involvement in Darfur as their government is very restrictive about which infomation the people receive.
For more information go to: www.savedarfur.org and www.aegistrust.org. Reading books like Tears Of The Desert helps us appreciate that although people living in Darfur have very different lives from us, really we have more in common with them than we do our differences and for an entire region of people to be eradicated as is being done to the people of Darfur is a huge blight on us "civilized" societies and the world will be poorer if this genocide is allowed to continue.
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