December 21, 2006—With his mother dead, seven-year-old
Emmanuel Jal was sent to Ethiopia to train as a soldier in the Sudan
People's Liberation Army. By the age of nine Jal was fighting in
major battles in Sudan's brutal armed conflict—one of many war
children to fall victim to the ongoing violence in the country's
But Jal was lucky—a British aid worker smuggled him out of the army and enrolled him in school in neighboring Kenya. Now the former soldier is a rising hip-hop artist who uses his gospel-inspired songs to spread powerful messages about the horrors of war—and the capacity to heal.
"Music has no boundaries," Jal says. "Music is just like love, basically. You can't stop it. When it happens, it just penetrates."