Good books and films about mass atrocities in Sudan

Sudanese human skulls on display Mukjar, Sudan.

Sudanese human skulls on display Mukjar, Sudan.

April was Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. In honor of this, we compiled a Resource List of books and films themed around each of the past genocides that have commemorative dates in April, plus the regions where we focus our awareness and advocacy efforts on an ongoing basis.  We hope you will make use of this list as a way to both remember these genocides, and learn more about them.

In April we featured books and films associated with the genocides that have commemorative dates in April.  In May, the regions of our present day efforts are the focus.  A previous post was specific to books and films about the Darfur genocide and the list below is more inclusive (e.g. Darfur, South Sudan, Sudan).  This is the ninth post in this series, mass atrocities in Sudan.

Recommended Books:

A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide, by Eric Reeves
The Khartoum regime is committing genocide in Darfur while the international community watches in silence or with mere hand-wringing.  Action is essential now if we are not to see a further extension of the international failures so conspicuous in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Emma’s War, by Deborah Scroggins
Young British relief worker Emma McCune came to Sudan determined to make a difference in a country decimated by the longest-running civil war in Africa.  She became a near legend in the bullet-scarred, famine-ridden country, but her eventual marriage to the rebel commander Riek Machar made international headlines—and spelled disastrous consequences for her ideals.

Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide, by Rebecca Hamilton *favorite
This is the story of the individuals who organized protest marches, lobbied government officials, and raised funds in the belief that the outcry they created would force world powers to save the millions of Darfurians still at risk.

Heart of Darfur, by Lisa French Blaker
An experienced nurse with Doctors without Borders, the author was posted to Darfur in 2005 for nine months to “provide assistance to populations in distress”.  In Darfur she found plenty.  She worked not only under harsh physical conditions, but also the deliberate brutality and malice of the janjaweed and Sudanese government soldiers.

Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond, by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast
Don Cheadle teamed with human rights activist Prendergast to plead for greater awareness of the horrors of genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and issue a call to action.

Nuer Journeys Nuer Lives: Sudanese Refugees in Minnesota, by Jon D. Holtzman
This book examines contemporary migration to the United States through a case study of the Nuer of Sudan, whose traditional life represents one of the most important case studies in the history of anthropology.  Readers will gain insights into the world of the refugee problem and the role of immigration in the Unites States and will learn about features of Nuer life.

Out of Exile: The Abducted and Displaced People of Sudan, by Craig Walzer *favorite
Refugees and abductees recount their escapes from the wars in Darfur and South Sudan.  They describe life in the desert camps of Khartoum, the underground communities of Cairo, Kakuma refugee camps, and the still growing internally displaced persons camps in Darfur.

Six Months in Sudan: A Young Doctor in a War-Torn Village, by James Maskalyk
The author, a doctor with Medecins sans Frontieres, describes the six months he worked in the middle of Sudan, in a village named Abyei that from the air was little more than “a smudge in the sand,” and his experience of caring for noncombatants trapped in a civil war.

Sudan: Darfur and the Failure of an African State, by Richard Cockett
The author provides an account of Sudan’s descent into failure, looking at all of Sudan’s numerous internal wars and rebellions since independence and showing how they are interconnected and looking at the country’s complex relationship with the wider world.

Sudan: The Land and  the People, by Tmothy Carney, Victoria Butler, Freeman
Internationally renowned photographer Michael Freeman traveled the length and breadth of Sudan to capture these extraordinary photos of modern Sudan.  This book gives the Country of Sudan, in all of its depth, a human face.

Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur, by Halima Bashir w/ Damien Lewis *favorite
Bashir, a refugee living in London, offers a vivid personal portrait of life in the Darfur region of Sudan before the catastrophe.  She anticipated a bright future after medical school, but tensions between Sudan’s Arab-dominated Islamist dictatorship and black African communities’ tribe finally exploded into conflict.

The Translator: A Memoir, by Daoud Hari
A 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.

They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan, by Benjamin Ajak, Benson Deng, Alephonsian Deng, and Judy Bernstein
Raised by Sudan’s Dinka tribe, the Deng brothers and their cousin were all under the age of seven when they left their homes after terrifying attacks on their villages during the Sudanese civil war.  The three were relocated to the U.S., and immediately began to fill composition books with the memoirs of chaos and culture shock collected here.

War and Survival in Sudan’s Frontierlands: Voices from the Blue Nile, by Wendy James
A case study of how the Uduk-speaking people from the Blue Nile region of Sudan, have been caught up in and displaced by a generation of civil war.  The Uduk case shows how people who once lived together now try to maintain links across borders and even continents through modern communications, and where possible recreate their ‘traditional’ forms of story-telling, music, and song.

What Is the What, by Dave Eggers *favorite
Valentino Achak Deng was a refugee from the Sudanese civil war-the bloodbath before the current Darfur bloodbath-of the 1980s and 90s.  Valentino joins thousands of other “Lost Boys,” beset by starvation, thirst and man-eating lions on their march to squalid refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, where Valentino pieces together a new life.

Recommended Films:

Darfur Now
Theodore Braun’s absorbing documentary about the atrocities in Darfur, the westernmost region of Sudan, Don Cheadle poses a fundamental question facing moviegoers attending a film about African strife: How do you respond to an event as difficult to understand as a government-sponsored mass murder of part of a country’s civilian population?

God Grew Tired of Us
Four boys from Sudan embark on a journey to America after years of wandering Sub-Saharan Africa in search of safety.

Lost Boys of Sudan
Lost Boys of Sudan is a feature-length documentary that follows two Sudanese refugees on an extraordinary journey from Africa to America.  Orphaned as young boys in one of Africa’s cruelest civil wars.  Safe at last from physical danger and hunger, they find themselves confronted with the abundance and alienation of contemporary American suburbia.

On Our Watch *favorite
The world vowed “never again,” then came Darfur.  By 2007, at least 200,000 people had been killed, 2.5 million driven from their homes, and mass rape used as a weapon in a brutal campaign supported by the Sudanese government.  The film asks why the United Nations and its members once again failed to stop the slaughter.

Rebuilding Hope
After fleeing their homeland many years earlier, Sudanese “Lost Boys” Gabriel Bol, Koor and Garang eagerly return to South Sudan where they reconnect with their relatives, assess the political climate and search for ways to support their communities.

Sand and Sorrow *favorite
Offered exclusive and unparalleled access to the situation on the ground inside Darfur, Peabody award-winning filmmaker, Paul Freedman, joins a contingent of African Union peacekeeping forces in Darfur while a tragic and disturbing chapter in human history unfolds.

The Devil Came On Horseback *favorite
A documentary that exposes the genocide raging in Darfur, Sudan as seen through the eyes of a former U.S. marine who returns home to make the story public.

War Child
War Child chronicles the tumultuous, shocking, inspiring, and ultimately hopeful odyssey of Emmanuel Jal.  A former child soldier of Sudan’s brutal civil war, he is now an emerging international hip hop star sharing a message of peace for his war-torn land and beloved Africa.  War Child tells the story of Jal’s life through his words and music and remarkable film footage dating back to his childhood.

Background on mass atrocities in Sudan:  Sudan, the largest country in North Africa, is the location of two conflicts that feature large-levels of targeted harm against civilians. The first of these is the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Genocide Intervention Network is also focusing on ensuring the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between North and South Sudan to ensure that there is no resumption of what had been Africa’s longest running civil war. Since 2003, the genocidal conflict in Darfur has devastated millions of non-combatant civilians and resulted in the death of at least 200,000 people. As of 2010, Sudan continues to direct its troops and proxy Janjaweed militias to systematically destroy the livelihoods of Darfuris by bombing and burning villages, looting economic resources, and murdering, raping, and torturing non-combatant civilians. A proliferation of rebel groups in Darfur is also complicit in the recruitment of child soldiers and the commission of other acts of violence against civilians. The Darfur conflict has displaced over 2.7 million people within Sudan, with an additional 250,000 crossing the border into Chad. The actions of the Sudanese government, particularly the expulsion of 13 international aid groups in March 2009, continue to affect those who have sought safety in towns and displaced persons camps. Beginning in early 2009, incidents of inter-tribal violence across South Sudan have strained relations between North and South Sudan. The attacks, which increasingly target civilians, have led members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the governing party of South Sudan, to accuse the Khartoum government of delivering arms to the South. As the international community works to ensure that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 is fully implemented, these attacks cast a pall over the continued stability of Sudan. Currently Sudan features two large peacekeeping missions, UNAMID, tasked with bringing peace and protecting civilians in Sudan’s western Darfur region and UNMIS, designated to ensure the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the demobilization of former combatants in South Sudan.

– From GI-Net / Save Darfur Coalition (link)

Compiled by Paulina Robles and Barbara English of Orange County for Darfur and Martina Knee of the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition.

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2 Responses to Good books and films about mass atrocities in Sudan

  1. Pingback: Good books and films about genocide and mass atrocities (all entries) « Orange County for Darfur Blog

  2. Pingback: April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month « Orange County for Darfur Blog

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