Emmanuel Jal: A War Child Returns Home

Music Features Emmanuel Jal

Emmanuel Jal is a peace soldier.

During the Second Sudanese Civil War Jal was forced to be a child soldier. He was rescued by an aid worker at age 11 and lived in a Kenyan slum. Jal fell in love with music and started singing to raise money for other local street kids and refugees. In 2005, he hit international stardom through his song “War Child” and in 2008 a documentary about Jal with the same title won at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Last month, Jal went back to Juba, his home city and now the capital of the world’s newest country—South Sudan. Jal decided to launch his We Want Peace Campaign on International Peace Day in Juba.

But while he was in Juba preparing for the epic We Want Peace concert Jal was brutally beaten by police. The evening of September 8th Jal was stopped by police and robbed of his mobile phone. Determined not to use or respond in violence, he was repeatedly beaten by five police and national security officers until he eventually lost consciousness. “A group of approximately 15 police and national security officers watched on as Emmanuel was beaten,” say Jal’s spokespeople.

“I would like to express that abuse of power should not be tolerated on any level. South Sudan must move forward with positivity and equality,” said Jal. “Tribalism, police brutality, corruption and other problems of destabilization must be highlighted and stopped in order for the country to progress. Let us continue to put a spotlight on such dark issues, for it is the best solution in paving a way for our bright future.”

After Jal healed and rallied, his International Peace Day Peace Conference took place as planned. “To see firsthand the vision of the Vice President and Emmanuel to create a peaceful, successful South Sudan is just incredible,” said Run-D.M.C.’s Darryl McDaniels, the first ever African-American to perform in South Sudan. In a brand new country trying to build itself in peace after decades of war, Jal successfully managed to merge the business, humanitarian, entertainment and government sectors to build a unified agenda for social responsibility and peace. To get involved in Emmanuel Jal’s We Want Peace campaign visit wewantpeace2012.org.

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