Friday, August 14, 2009

Emmanuel Jal Shares his Eperiences as a Child Soldier Through Singing

Emmanuel Jal became a child soldier in Sudan at the age of seven. He learned to hate the northern Sudanese even though he did not know the origins of the war. What he did know was that his family perished because of the war and he felt he had to avenge their deaths.

Fighting two civil wars over a five-year period meant that Jal’s future was bleak. However, at age 13, a British aid worker, Emma McCune, smuggled Jal into Nairobi and adopted him. This gave him the opportunity to be a part of a new family, gain an education and eventually to spread awareness about the state of Sudan.

Music provides him with the strength and means to share his story worldwide. His lyrics touch the soul, providing a glimpse into what he suffered as a child in Sudan. In 2005, he released his first album, Gua, which means peace in his native Nuer. Since then, he has performed at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday, and spoken to U.N. delegates as well as given talks at universities throughout the U.S.

He recently told his story at a TED conference, sharing poetry and a song dedicated to Emma McCune. Check it out!
--Jessica Milstead