Emmanuel Jal

It seems that CNN was also at the child soldier-turned-rapper Emmanuel Jal charity show in D.C. a couple weeks back. Remember, you heard it here first.

That night, a spotlight fell on the stage where Jal rapped. The darkened hall was full of young, successful-looking Washingtonians. It was a fascinating scene and one couldn’t help but wonder: How can this audience possibly understand where he’s coming from?

“My dreams are like torment
My every moment
Voices of my brain
Of friends that were slain,
Friends who died by my side of starvation
In the burning jungle and the desert plain.
But Jesus heard my cry.
I was tempted to eat the rotten flesh of my comrade.”

Jal was born in southern Sudan. He thinks the year was 1980. He’s not sure of the exact date. The region was engulfed in a civil war as rebels from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) began fighting for independence and control of the country’s oil.

His father became a rebel. His mother was killed. He says government soldiers raped his sister three times. Jal ended up in a United Nations refugee camp.

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