My Name is Emmanuel Jal, and I was born in war torn Sudan.
I do not know when I was born, but I believe I took my first breath of oxygen sometime in the early 80s.
My country has been at war for over a decade. I am from southern Sudan where the people are tall and beautiful with smooth skin similar in colour and texture to that of roasted beans.
At the age of seven I, along with thousands of other children was taken from Sudan to Ethiopia, to learn to read and write. Ethiopia at that time was like a city run by children; there were over 30,000 of us in total. During my time there, I learned 8 languages, but as time passed we learned that we had in fact been bought there to be trained as child soldiers. I escaped from the growing army when people started to lose their vision and started fighting one another. Our common enemy being our Sudanese people from the north. Unfortunately I did not reach home because a number of serious events occurred as we embarked on the long journey home. I ended up in a town called Waat. It was here that I met aid worker Emma McCune. She rescued me, by disarming me and smuggling me into Kenya. Whilst in Kenya Emma put me into school and adopted me. Unfortunately a year after I was rescued Emma was killed in a fatal car accident. After this tragedy things became increasingly difficult for me.
I turned to music as a method of therapy and started singing in church. I discovered I had a talent for music at the age of 20.
I released a song in Kenya called "All we need" which became extremely successful. My second release "Gua" reached number one in Kenya, and bought me international acclaim, winning me an American Gospel Award. I then in 2005 released an album called "Ceasefire". This to was a successful project and enabled me to travel, performing in a variety of cities all over the USA and Europe. I also had the privilage of being asked to be the headlining act performing at the Eden project in Cornwall for Live 8 2005, and my track "BAAI" is featured on the soundtrack of "Blood Diamond."
I am currently working on my forthcoming album "War Child" due for release in 2008
Here is one of his songs that expresses his current temptations that he now faces.
If you would like to listen to an NPR interview with Emmanuel Jal you can go here.