Chad: Surviving Civil War

Going back in time for a bit, because I finally got ahold of A teenager in the Chad Civil War by Ésaie Toingar. I was quite excited to read about Chad and the civil war, since I knew little about the subject from before. I have read several books about civil wars in Africa, and they all have certain similar elements, and obviously some universal civil war elements as well. I was only able to find another book translated to the English from Chad, so Chad all in all seems like such an exotic place.

Hissene Habré took the power from the UN-recognized government, and started a vicious torture and killing spree in his own country in the 1980s. The author was a young boy, on his way towards becoming a man during the darkest days of Chad’s history. For some reason Septembers turned out to be the most brutal times during the civil war. The author focuses as well on the Septembers of his life during the war.

All in all the book is said to be about the path of his survival. It seems like the situation during the Sudan civil war was similar to Chad’s civil war. Southerners were suppressed by Northerners. “How had it come to this, that strangers would drive into our village on a sunny morning, kill us, set fire to our homes, and leave? This was the Spring 1983, I was 14 years old, and I was terrified.”

I have to say the author has lived an extremely interesting life seen from the point of you of a reader, a terrible life growing up during the civil war seen from the point of view of humanity. However, the way the book is written failed to capture my interest, it did not catch me emotionally, and it kept me at a distance. I have seen this happen before with world literature, especially written by men. Sometimes I think it might get lost in translation, but highly doubt that happens when translated from French to English.

Despite that there are of course several horrible situations in the book, and no child should ever have to experience this. The lack of bigger emotions as well as reflections on what happened, and when a book if filled with names, places, and acronyms, it just takes something out of it for me. I find the story to be intriguing, but the execution did not work for me. Don’t feel discouraged though, if you’re interested in reading about Chad, go ahead and read it!

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