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Darfur Now shows us life in another part of the world and teaches us to be grateful

"Darfur Now: Six Stories, One Hope.
"Darfur Now: Six Stories, One Hope.
DVD Cover

"Darfur Now" is a documentary released in 2007, rated PG and directed by Theodore Braun.  It chronicles events in Darfur, a region of Sudan about the size of France, which led to widespread murder and terror.  The events began in 1987 when General Omar Bashir took control of Sudan by a military coup.

Six million people populated Darfur, belonging to about 100 different tribes, some nomadic and some agricultural.  It is said that Bashir paid and armed nomadic tribes to destroy agricultural villages.  His motive: conflict over lifestyle and resources. Entire villages were burned to the ground and their inhabitants murdered or run off.  These nomadic "murderers" are called Janjaweed, "devils on horseback".  This was the first such conflict that was acknowledged by the US to be genocide while it was happening.

The story is told though six people who fought to help the people of Darfur, spread the word about what was happening and stop the genocide:

  1. Luis Moreno-Ocampo-a lawyer from Argentina who served as prosecutor for the International Criminal court.
  2. Adam Sterling-a once non-activist student who became the co-founder of the Sudan Divestment Task Force which ultimately convinced the state of California to divest itself of any financial contribution to the military government  of Darfur.
  3. Ahmed Mohammed Abakar-an unassuming man who found himself Chief Sheikh of the Hamadea Displaced Persons Camp.  He came to the camp after his village was attacked by the Janjaweed.
  4. Don Cheadle-co-author of "Not on Our Watch" and celebrity who, after a visit to displacement camps where he observed the "universal children's spirit" even in those circumstances,  felt he had to do something. He could use his celebrity to help spread the word about what was happening in Darfur.
  5. Pablo Recalde-Head of Office, West Darfur, World Food Program who fought many odds, such as attacks on his supply trucks and stolen supplies, to bring food to the displacement camps.
  6. Hejewa Adam-a woman who fought with the Rebel Sudan Liberation Movement.  She joined the fight after her village was attacked and her child killed and vows she will die for Darfur.

The film starts out with some history printed on the screen that is difficult to read; and while the events are of grave importance and the need to get the word out imperative, it drags a bit.  However, there are many in depth interviews with the above mentioned people that really give a feel for what is happening far away in Africa.  It is a must see for isolated Americans who just don't realize how good they have it. 

The film is available on DVD at any Gainesville rental establishment and also through Netflix.

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