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Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in…

Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur (2008)

by Halima Bashir

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2734541,545 (4.39)41
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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
So sad .... the author is a medical doctor who received her degree in Sudan just as the conflicts were getting bad. She tells of the good times in her village before the genocide began and her personal story of caring for victims of the conflict. Her personal narrative of female circumcision was excruciatingly painful to read - I can't imagine the pain experienced by the girls. But that pales with the stories of her own ordeal at the hands of the janjaweed, the Arab fighters who terrorized the villages of Sudan. How do such people survive??? After reading this book, I immediately signed an online petition to Obama, asking that he live up to campaign promises to aid Darfur. ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
If you are a pc sort of person, this book is going to piss you off no end.

No nation or religious group is allowed to be blamed for anything its members might do unless the national or religious designation is qualified with the words, "fundamentalist", "extremist" or similar, so that we all may know that the other nationals or co-religionists are not themselves terrorists and do not support such actions). This applies even when we know they do by their attendance at rallies, their votes for politicians who do support terrorism and their vast donations to 'the cause' whatever that might be. No, we want to be seen as fair, even if that will cause us to be mocked, that attitude exploited and will ultimately be to our own detriment.

An example of a pc person: someone who agrees that there must be no racial-profiling allowed in security screenings at airports. That the security companies do not search people with Muslim names and Middle-Eastern or African appearance more than anyone else despite the fact that people with, for instance, Swedish names and of Nordic appearance do not actually figure in the present statistics of those who do blow up planes (and take credit for it). If you agree with this policy, then this book will press all your buttons.

Everyone in the book is a Muslim. It's the Arab Government and its supporters versus the Black Africans who are the victims. There are other victims in Sudan and Chad, especially in Darfur, who are Christians or Animists who suffer equally but they do not figure in Tears in the Desert. It does prove however that this civil war, this policy of enslavement and removal from ancestral lands is an entirely racially-based aggression.

For those who think that pc-doublespeak does us any favours at all, a rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but calling shit, 'excreta', 'night soil', 'waste products' or even 'faeces' might take the offence away of the unacceptable word SHIT, but it doesn't stop it stinking or - uncontained - spreading disease. And Halima Bashir has no hesitation in saying it is the Arabs who are ordering the rape of children, the burning of babies, the destruction of villages of the Black Africans, purely because they are Africans and in possession of the land and livestock the Arabs want.

Financing this serious attempt at genocide are the Chinese. They are quite impartial ignorers of human rights at home and abroad, all they want to do is buy the oil and sell weapons and this gives the Arab government of Sudan the ability to ignore international and UN censure. The British Government do support the UN on this in theory, but the book is very scathing about their policy towards Black Sudanese asylum seekers (see Mende Nazer's Slave for more on that).

The book doesn't deserve five-stars for writing, it does rather go on in parts about the idyllic childhood existence of pastoral life, but this is common to almost all the books on this subject - the aforementioned book, Slave, or the model Alek Wek's equally amazing autobiography as well as Francis Bok's "Escape from Slavery". What is does deserve 5 stars for is content. Its not an intellectual or political book but one of an educated woman (the author is a doctor) who has sadly, lived through the most terrible circumstances that could befall anyone, genital mutilations, gang rape, torture, murder, loss of her entire family and right until the end, no safe place of asylum.

Its a book worth reading, at times its too gripping to put down, its not at all heavy, but could never be described as 'enjoyable'. A book to learn from. ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
Halima grew up in a Darfur village with her mother, father, grandmother, 2 bothers and 1 sister. She shares the ups and horrific downs of her life beginning with her childhood. The customs of her people are explained and described - some of which were fascinating and others that were unbelievably atrocious. Eventually, Halima brings the harrowing event of genocide to the forefront, while sharing her heart and determination to live. Her story is remarkable and one that I will not soon forget.

Originally posted on: Thoughts of Joy ( )
  ThoughtsofJoyLibrary | Aug 13, 2012 |
I read this book over a year ago and I still remember vivid imagery and Halima's story. ( )
  untitled841 | Dec 18, 2011 |
Halima Bashir, the product of a loving and close-knit Sudanese family, studied and worked hard and became her village's first medical doctor, much to her father's pride. But her promising career is threatened by the increasing violence in Darfur, and Halima suffers from persecution while in school. But things become very bad when the Arab faction of the nation seizes control and decides to exterminate the black Sudanese.

Halima, incensed by the violence, especially when perpetrated against innocent people, speaks to the press about what is going on in Darfur. This gets her arrested, and she is forced to sign a paper declaring that she will be silent. She is also sent to a remote outpost. But when the Janjaweed attacks a school, gang raping girls as young as seven and eight while the government's soldiers stand around and actually bar the girls' families from entering the school to try to save them, she's outraged. She speaks to the United Nations about what happened. She is then taken, gang raped, and forced to flee. Eventually, she ends up in London, England, but her asylum status is continually challenged by the British government.

I think that this memoir gives a great idea of what is happening in Darfur. Although many nations call what happened - and what is STILL happening - in Darfur a tragedy, no one seems to be willing to do anything about it. Apparently we have not learned our lessons from Rwanda. How many more women and children have to suffer what Halima endured? How many more people have to die?

I also liked this memoir because Halima recounted her childhood, which was almost idyllic. Her father loved her immensely and was a very enlightened man. She also detailed her grandmother's warrior spirit and some of the customs of her tribe.

The memoir almost read like a novel; it was very engaging, and yet that only made what was described within its pages more horrific.

I highly recommend this book. ( )
  schatzi | Oct 6, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345506251, Hardcover)

Like the single white eyelash that graces her row of dark lashes–seen by her people as a mark of good fortune–Halima Bashir’s story stands out. Tears of the Desert is the first memoir ever written by a woman caught up in the war in Darfur. It is a survivor’s tale of a conflicted country, a resilient people, and the uncompromising spirit of a young woman who refused to be silenced.

Born into the Zaghawa tribe in the Sudanese desert, Halima was doted on by her father, a cattle herder, and kept in line by her formidable grandmother. A politically astute man, Halima’s father saw to it that his daughter received a good education away from their rural surroundings. Halima excelled in her studies and exams, surpassing even the privileged Arab girls who looked down their noses at the black Africans. With her love of learning and her father’s support, Halima went on to study medicine, and at twenty-four became her village’s first formal doctor.

Yet not even the symbol of good luck that dotted her eye could protect her from the encroaching conflict that would consume her land. Janjaweed Arab militias started savagely assaulting the Zaghawa, often with the backing of the Sudanese military. Then, in early 2004, the Janjaweed attacked Bashir’s village and surrounding areas, raping forty-two schoolgirls and their teachers. Bashir, who treated the traumatized victims, some as young as eight years old, could no longer remain quiet. But breaking her silence ignited a horrifying turn of events.

In this harrowing and heartbreaking account, Halima Bashir sheds light on the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives being eradicated by what is fast becoming one of the most terrifying genocides of the twenty-first century. Raw and riveting, Tears of the Desert is more than just a memoir–it is Halima Bashir’s global call to action.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:20 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A Sudanese doctor describes the horrors of the civil war between black Africans and the Arab-led Sudanese government as she relates her outrage over the treatment of female prisoners, the retaliation she faced after speaking out, and her personal struggle for survival.… (more)

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