|A helping hand for South Sudan|
|Published Thursday, March 22, 2012 7:00 am|
Once a childhood soldier in the Sudanese civil war, Emmanuel Jal had his childhood taken away from him.
His mother was killed when he was 7 years old and his father joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Jal ran away with other children where he met British aid worker Emma McCune, who adopted him and smuggled him to Kenya. He lived with McCune until 1993, when she was killed in a car wreck.
|Rapper Emmanuel Jal, escaped Sudan’s civil war as a child,will be the featured speaker at a global issues forum at Central Piedmont Community College|
| Photo: EmmanuelJal,com
“If I didn’t meet her I would probably be dead,” Jal said. “She was the turning point in my life.”
But today at age 32, Jal is a musician and an activist raising awareness for peace.
“I was born in a war torn country,” Jal said. “I have the opportunity to speak on behalf of so many people whose life have been torn by the war. If I have the opportunity to speak and prevent another child from going through what I did, then I’m going to do that.”
Jal will be in Charlotte March 29 as the featured speaker at Central Piedmont Community College’s global issues forum, “Youth as Global Change Makers,” at 11 a.m. at the Dale F. Halton Theater. The event is free and open to the public.
Later that evening, Jal will make an appearance at a concert for South Sudan. The event is family-friendly and takes place at 8 p.m. at Amos’ SouthEnd, 1423 S. Tryon St. A suggested donation is $8 and $3 for young adults under age 21.
The proceeds will benefit Mothering Across Continents Project, a Charlotte based non-profit that raises awareness and has a variety of education focused projects in South Africa, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Haiti, Hong Kong and India.
Additionally, there will be a 5K race at 8 a.m. March 31 beginning at Bank of America Stadium, 800 S. Mint St.
“(Jal) is coming by invitation and we are doing a benefit concert on the 29th as well as a 5K walk on the 31st and that is designed to raise funds for clean water in South Sudan,” said Patricia Shafer, a MAC organizer. “His story is so similar and consistent to the Lost Boys in the civil war. What is so appealing about Emmanuel Jal is that his story focuses on peace building and it’s relevant for people of all ages.”
Jal, a positive rapper, uses his music to ease the pain of what he has experienced.
“I’ve been performing since 2000,” he said. “I’m trying to make a difference. It’s more about creating awareness by sharing my experience with young people who have so much power.”
Jal said MAC has been asking him to come and support them for years and he’s decided to come he says because they’re doing excellent work.
Shafer, who started MAC in 2006 alongside South African native Lyndall Hare, is looking forward to Jal’s visit.
“He’s just so positive and he’s spoken to Congress and the (United Nations) as well as won the Common Ground Award,” Shafer said. “A lot of (Sudan’s) Lost Boys lived in civil war, fled their villages as refugees and still ended up being voices for the future and providing for tomorrow’s youth to help prevent conflict in the future.”
Jal says he can’t be silent. His latest video is called “We Want Peace,” from the upcoming album “See Me Mama.” The video is to raise awareness to justice, equality, unification and conflict prevention.
“I think people are well aware of the great opportunities there are to make a difference in the lives of children,” Shafer said. “I think people are often not clear on how they can make a difference locally, but if you work with organizations like us and what we’re supporting you really can make a difference from far away.”
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