SEGL hosts former Sudanese child soldier and current international rap star Emmanuel Jal
SEGL students and faculty had a brush with international music stardom this morning when Sudanese rap artist Emmanual Jal joined us for a private concert, motivational talk, and Q and A session. Jal’s autobiography, War Child (which each student received prior to his visit), tells the story of his life as a former child soldier during the bloody Sudanese civil war, his gruesome trek as a “Lost Boy,” and his subsequent rescue by the Western humanitarian Emma McCune.
As Jal’s website notes,
In the war-torn region of Southern Sudan, Emmanuel Jal was born into the life of a child solider. Through unbelievable struggles, Emmanuel managed to survive and emerge as a world-famous recording artist with a hit record under his belt. Called an artist “with the potential of a young Bob Marley” by Peter Gabriel, he has performed at Live 8 and Nelson Mandela’s 90th b-day concert. His music can be heard in major motion pictures, TV, and he’s been featured in major outlets like TIME, USA Today, NPR, CNN, MTV, & the BBC. Emmanuel is also a spokesperson for Amnesty International and Oxfam, and created the charitable foundation, Gua Africa.
After a brief film and live performance of new hit “We Want Peace,” Jal discussed his riveting story; in a show of his diverse talents, he included a stirring spoken word piece as a part of his testimonial. He also shared his commitment to peace and education, and to the charities he encourages others to support through his innovative “Lose to Win” website. He then performed a final song, “Emma” (about the woman who saved his life) that got the students dancing and singing.
Afterwards, Jal joined us for an informal lunch, where he handed out limited-edition “pre-release” copies of his upcoming album, signed autographs, and swapped stories with students. There was lots of laughter and excitement to be had–in large part because of Jal’s wide smile and easy manner–and many students were heard humming his tunes long after he left.
Jal is also tech-savvy; he sent the following Tweet to his thousands of followers after the event: “I’m @ The school for Ethics and Global Leadership in Washington, an amazing school set up after 9/11 for 21 students from all over the world”
Special thanks to SEGL parent Kathleen Francalangia for making this exciting and memorable morning possible.
Links to official music videos of the songs Jal performed at SEGL:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qaM-nLDu84&feature=related (live performance at Nelson Mandela’s birthday party)
Link to Jal’s TED talk, which shares his unbelievable story: