What do you think your future would hold if your grew up in Southern Sudan? How about if at the age of 7 you family was torn apart by war? Now what if you were taken away from the violence to another country only to find yourself forced into fighting someone else’s war? Do you think if you escaped you could then make something of yourself and help others in the process?
That is Emmanuel Jal’s story. Jal is a former child soldier who grew up in Sudan. He saw his Aunt raped before his eyes. His Father went off to fight the war and his Mother was murdered. His future was pretty slim.
It gets worse. Jal was was taken to Ethiopia for a chance at a better life. But it didn’t happen. He was forced to join the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) and found himself back in in Sudan. He was a soldier at the age of seven. And, that was his life for the next five years.
Emma McCune, an aid worker from England, entered his life in the early 1990s. McCune saved his life by smuggling him to Kenya. He was maybe 13 at the time. She raised Jal and gave him a chance to survive.
Jal saw alot of violence during his childhood years. His exposure to rap music gave him an escape from the horrors of his past.
Jal is now a recording artist. He also speaks before such esteemed bodies as the United Nations. He spends his time making music and spreading the word about his life. There is even a documentary about his life.
In an interview, Jal says he has no choice. In Jal’s own words in a Huffingtonpost.com article, “”The way I look at it, I’m writing down history. I’m bringing what happened in my life to the international community. I feel responsible, I’m like the voice of those people.”