Emmanuel Jal's hypnotic voice rises from hellish origins as a beacon of hope for those caught in seemingly endless cycles of war and despair.
Hip-hop star Emmanuel Jal first exploded into dance halls with Gua in 2005. His music has energized music lovers of all ethnicities and nations. But Jal's life story is far darker. Swept up into the Sudanese rebel army at age seven, he finally escaped with 400 fellow soldiers, 16 of whom survived, the rest succumbing to starvation, ambush and animal attacks. Rather than resort to cannibalism, Jal ate snails and vultures until he arrived at a refugee camp, where he was adopted by aid worker Emma McCune and later sent to England.
Jal found an outlet for his turbulent life story in music. His lyrics tell moving and disturbing stories, but wrap them into hope and love. He is active in charity work across Africa, fighting against poverty and child warfare. War Child, his biography, was released in early 2009 along with a documentary film.
“[During the second Sudanese Civil War] what was actually killing us wasn’t the Muslims, wasn’t the Arabs. It was somebody sitting somewhere manipulating the system, and using religion to get what they want to get out of us, which is the oil, the diamond, the gold and the land.”