Biografie Emmanuel Jal


Emmanuel Jal is not sure of the exact year he was born in, but he was probably born around 1980 in the village of Tonj in South Sudan. He had to leave his family at the tender age of seven to fight for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) from the majority-Christian South against the Muslim government’s military forces. This government introduced Sharia law to the country in 1981 and has persecuted the Christian minority ever since. Instead of going to school, Emmanuel Jal got to grips with an AK47 assault rifle, and after an unsuccessful attack on the South Sudanese provincial capital of Juba, he had to endure walking hundreds of kilometres to reach the safety of a rebel camp.
Many child soldiers died of hunger or exhaustion as a result of this forced march. At the rebel camp in Waat, Emmanuel Jal attracted the attention of Emma McCune from England, who was married to the rebel commander Riek Machar. She adopted the child soldier Emmanuel Jal, who wore the scars of five years of war, and smuggled him over the border into Kenya. Although Emma McCune tragically died in a car accident shortly afterwards, Emmanuel Jal had now been given the opportunity to attend a school in Nairobi thanks to the support of her friends, where he discovered his musical talent.
After performing with various gospel groups, he finally found rap as a good means to process his traumatic experiences as a child soldier and to tell others the conclusions he has drawn from those years. “I feel that I survived for the reason of telling others about my story”, he said in an interview. The title song of his first CD “Gua” (“Peace”) has already been a hit in Kenya. Since then he has been making headlines internationally with his musical anti-war message. He has toured several countries, joined Amnesty International’s demonstration against the deployment of child soldiers, received invitations from organisations such as the United Nations and UNESCO, and actively campaigned for arms control. On June 27th, 2008 he performed in front of 50,000 people at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert in London‘s Hyde Park.
When the Sudanese government and the SPLA  agreed a ceasefire in 2005 – after a quarter of a century of civil war and more than two million victims – Emmanuel Jal, from the Christian South Sudan, and the Muslim musician Abdel Gadir Salim from North Sudan, gave an historic concert in the capital Khartoum. In doing so, they expressed the hope of both sides for a peaceful future together. A studio version of their collaboration was released on the “Ceasefire” CD. Emmanuel Jal’s CD from May 2008 has the same title as the documentary film that recounts his life story: “War Child”.

Filmografie (Auswahl) zu Emmanuel Jal