Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Emmanuel Jal: The music of a war child

By Amber H.

Emmanuel Jal shares a speech and a song for the peers in the audience about his painful past. At the age of eight he was a child solider. He was rescued by an aid worker, which is why he is alive to tell his story today. He's traveled the world telling his personal story from his childhood up to his adulthood, and how he intends to continue what somebody else has done for him.

Mr. Jal's speech was very motivating. Some of his background as a child isn't something a child should have to see. For starters he was born when his country was in war, saw his village burn down, and at the age of five saw his aunt being raped. He also does not have contact with his mother, father, or any of his siblings because the war claimed his mother, his siblings are scattered and his father was discharged. He explains how he left home when he was seven years old, and was volunteered to be a child solider at the age of eight. "I'm caught in the burn of drama, war child without a mamma." I find that quote very interesting, as that is taken from a poem Mr. Jal wrote and shared with us. At the age of eight watching his friends die of starvation, he had to steal from local farms. He stole the sheep, chickens, and goats, and he had to sin to keep surviving. At one point he was so hungry he was going to eat the flesh of his dead friend. While in the middle of his war-torn country, he stood by himself and asked God why he was here? why his country was so poor? and why when other children were learning to read and write while he was learning how to fight. When people look at themselves today, sometimes they complain about how much they have, complaining that it is not enough. When you compare it to Mr. Jal's story, we should be thanking the Lord for what he gave us and help out those who have less. In relation to that, this is the point to his story. "So my breakfast, my lunch, I donate it to a charity that I founded because we want to build a school in Sudan." He has been raising money towards building a school in Sudan, and instead of eating three meals a day, he donates his breakfast and lunch to charity. He stated since his people only eat one meal a day that he would donate the rest to someone else in need. He feels that education is the most important thing to fix up his country, and that he knows what his people need. He gives examples that if anyone wants to help, to give them tools, Africa is fertile and can grow crops. If they had the education to grow the crops they would not be starving because they would be bringing in food from the fields. Selling some of the crops they produce can start to bring in a profit, which would solve the problem of starvation and poverty in the continent of Africa.

To make the talk even more interesting, at the end of his presentation he sang the audience a song. While he was singing his song, he was dancing. He looked truly happy to be who he is today, and is happy with what he has accomplished in life and the further actions he is willing to take. During his song he sings about the aid worker that rescued him, by the name of Emma McCune. "I'm going over mountains, leaps and bounds. I'm not an angel, hope I'll be one soon". In this argument I agree with everything Mr. Jal had to say, especially about the incredible thought about education to improve the country. Another thing I enjoyed about his speech was that he motivated the crowd to join in on the song. When he was up on stage dancing and singing he told the crowd to stand up with him and celebrate Emma. This speech inspired me on the idea's of Africa and the things that need to be done on this contient. Overall this speech was a motivation towards helping Africa as I would assure it would have motivated every person in that audience watching his presentation


  1. hey there! so im totally in love with this guys hair. i guess im kind of judgemental because i watch the videos of the people with cool hair! my math teacher showed us in class how you guys were also watching ted talks. when i clicked this video i thought this guy was going to rap or something ha ha. more judgements lol... but his "talk" was so interesting! i love his accent too!

  2. i love this talk... good pick.

    the part that really resonated with me... when he said he would die for education.

    i also really liked when he asked us to help him celebrate Emma.

    Amber, have you seen War Dance? if not i think you would like it...
    the entire movie is here -

  3. I really enjoyed this talk and found it to be very inspiring. I really enjoyed that his comments on music being power because it really is. Music has the power to make someone cry the saddest tears and then with that very same verse make them dry their eyes. Music can be interpreted in so many ways and be beautiful in the saddest ways. Music is a way for us to spread our passions and let the world know our stories. Music is one of the ways that we can truly be remembered and this man will be remembered for his hardships and his music.