Yesterday I was fortunate enough to hear Emmanuel Jal tell his story, through powerful poetry and rap lyrics at Hillsong London.
Emmanuel Jal was born in war-torn Sudan, and while he doesn’t know exactly when, he believes it was in the early 1980s. He was taken from his family home in 1987 when he was six or seven years old, and sent to fight with the rebel army in Sudan’s bloody civil war. For nearly five years, he was a “child warrior,” put into battle carrying an AK-47 that was taller than he was.
By the time he was 13, he was a veteran of two civil wars and had seen hundreds of his fellow child soldiers reduced to taking unspeakable measures as they struggled to survive on the killing fields of Southern Sudan. After a series of harrowing events, he was rescued by a British aid worker (Emma McCune) who smuggled him into Nairobi to raise him as her own.
McCune died in a road accident a few months later, but her friends helped Emmanuel to continue his studies. To help ease the pain of all that he had experienced Emmanuel started singing and music became his weapon of choice.
His music has since taken him around the world, performing at events like Madiba’s 46664 concert and Live8, alongside artists like Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox, Damien Marley, Razorlight, Supergrass, amongst many others.
Emmanuel Jal’s official video for Youtube – listen to the lyrics!
Emma – dedicated to the woman who saved Emmanuel’s life