(02-22-2004) A passionate witness on the road to Sarajevo - The Observer.com * - U2 Feedback

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Old 02-22-2004, 09:58 AM   #1
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(02-22-2004) A passionate witness on the road to Sarajevo - The Observer.com *

A passionate witness on the road to Sarajevo.

Bill Carter tells how he found horror and humanity amid the tragedy of the Bosnian war in Fools Rush In.

Peter Beaumont.
Sunday February 22, 2004.
The Observer.

In the midst of one of the interminable winters of the Bosnian war The Observer asked me to follow an aid convoy to Sarajevo. The big international aid groups were not in the mood to take in a journalist and so I was passed down the line until I found myself with one of the most colourful, dedicated and unusual aid groups of them all, The Serious Road Trip.

An idealistic bunch of hippies and punks, the Trip drove its ageing British Army lorries through the badlands of central Bosnia - where Croats were fighting Bosniaks - into the even darker territory of Sarajevo and its besieged hinterland. It was a terrifying journey made only a little more bearable by the thumping sound of the stereos, by a sense that you were travelling with people who really cared despite their meagre resources, and Dutch - or rather Jamaican - courage supplied by beer, whisky and dope.

It was a strange journey that ended, for me, in the town of Zenica, blocked for a time from going any further. We camped in an abandoned house and subsisted on the local doner kebabs.

Even then Bill Carter's name would come up. The Trip hated journalists on the whole but Carter was an exception. He was not really a hack, more a member of the Trip, living its trials and the trials of the people of Sarajevo. Later he would become famous. He would shoot a documentary - Miss Sarajevo - and forge a friendship with U2 that would help to deliver the message of Sarajevo, and of the Trip, to a wider world.

Now Carter has sat down to write about the war and his strange part in it. His is the story of a fiercely intelligent wastrel who finds a meaning and a love that ends in tragedy, and who gravitates to Bosnia as so many did to the Spanish Civil War, half a century before.

It is not a history (if you seek that then look elsewhere). Instead it is a deeply felt emotional reaction to the horror and the humanity that Bill Carter would witness, into ordinary life surviving beneath the gun, told with the passion of one who came to identify himself with the tragedy of Bosnia, not as an observer.

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