Wed, 15 Dec 2010 11:23:20
Why are Keys, Gabriel, Clooney and others involved? Well, with Sudan on the brink of a new civil war in January 2011 and the potential for genocide looming, these stars, along with U.N Secretary General and Nobel Laureate Kofi Annan, and President Jimmy Carter, chose to appear in the music video for Sudanese musician, warchild, and spokesperson for Refugees United and Amnesty International — Emmanuel Jal! The video is for his song “We Want Peace.”
“I grew up in an environment where I thought Muslims and Arabs were the ones who kill, but through education I discovered this wasn’t the truth – and then I was able to forgive. You can’t forgive if you don’t know the truth, which is why education is so important… If young folks know the truth, change will come,” Jal said.
Today Jal travels the world spreading his message of peace and education through music. He has launched the “We Want Peace” global initiative to shed light on the impending Sudanese independence vote, January 9, 2011, and potential for another civil war.
Check out his song here.
Some history on Jal: At a young age, Jal left for Ethiopia where he was promised food and education. What he found was a refugee camp plagued by famine, depression, anger and suicide. At age 8, Jal became a child soldier in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. He was handed an AK47 and told to consider it his family.
Jal spent five years as a child soldier before escaping and eventually being rescued by Street Kids International aid worker Emma McCune. McCune smuggled him to Nairobi, where she began educating him and treated Jal as her own.
McCune was killed in a car crash six months after rescuing Jal. This tragedy acted as a catalyst, Jal realized suffering wasn’t relegated to the Sudanese and became educated on the struggles of African slaves, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and more.
His charity, Gua Africa, sponsors education for 40 Sudanese Children.
Jal recently completed a one-meal-a-day fast lasting 662 days, to raise the target amount of $220,000 needed to complete the first phase of the Emma Academy education centre in Leer, in his native South Sudan (Emma McCune’s final resting place). The project is coordinated by Gua Africa, the charity founded by Jal aiming to work with individuals, families and communities to help them overcome the effects of war and poverty.
*Note that all ages are approximate, as Jal doesn’t know his birth year. He believes it’s 1980.