Posted by: Isaac Bruce | July 29, 2010

‘War Child’

 I first heard of  the TED Global when I saw videos of it on my cousin’s computer. Just a week ago, I went to the website and tried to download videos making news around the world. The internet was pretty fast so I got myself more than I wanted.  A video “War Child” got me interested to know more about. The video had this guy with dreads and seems to have experienced much of what he was talking about The effects of Wars like the one he experienced in Sudan when he was young.

Emmanuel was born in the village of Tonj in Southern Sudan, he was a little boy when the civil war broke out. His father joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and when he was about seven years old his mother was killed by soldiers loyal to the government. Emmanuel met Emma McCune, a British aid worker on his ‘escape voyage’. Emmanuel was only 11 years old then and McCune insisted he should not be a child soldier. She adopted him and both went to Kenya. Thanks to McCune!

Emmanuel used music to heal his wounds and that of other displaced children from their homeland due to wars. Apart from singing he also became very active in the community, raising money for local street children and refugees. With the encouragement of those around him, Emmanuel became increasingly involved in music and formed several groups. His first single, “All We Need Is Jesus”, was a hit in Kenya and received airplay in the UK.

Through his music, there is now  the unity of the citizens to overcome ethnic and religious division and motivate the youth in Sudan and other parts of war thorn countries. “Music is powerful. It is the only thing that can speak into your mind, your heart and your soul without your permission”- Emmanuel Jal. Through his heartfelt lyrics, he opened the world up to the corruption and greed of the Sudanese government at the time; his campaign for peace and a clear message that children have no place in wars.I urge other musicians and other stakeholders especially in Africa to use music as a tool to unite among ourselves, and not preach gang culture, drugs, sexual violence, and greed. This kills the African child beyond the physical.

Recently, Despite his music, Jal’s biggest passion is for Gua Africa, a charity that he founded. Besides building schools, the nonprofit provides scholarships for Sudanese war survivors in refugee camps, and sponsors education for children in the most deprived slum areas in Kenya. Jal is now on a “Lose To Win” challenge to build a school in Leer, Southern Sudan, in Emma McCune’s honor. Hence since December 2008, the musician has eaten one meal per day, skipping his breakfasts and lunches to raise funds and awareness for the school.

Today I spoke to Emmanuel Jal, it was a great feeling to hear from the ‘War Child’. I am sure there are many African war children out there who never got the chance to share their stories like Emmanuel. Emmanuel and I believe peace for the development of Africa overrides every aspiration as a continent. We might just have been misled due to our experiences, but what do you think of this as an African?



  1. I’m glad you have a blog now. This doc sounds awesome, I can’t wait to see it. Miss you pa!

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