103Re: [justpeaceinasia] Child Soldiers
- May 12, 2005Max,Nothing heard from you for long with regards to the next Justpeace meet scheduled (as per plans) to be held in India. July I am seperating for an intensive writing of the remaining part of book plus editing.Warm regards
max <maxediger@...> wrote:
Sudan's Children take up the gun
The Nation, 03-05-05
Emmauel Jal was only eight when he learned to fire a gun and, as he
listens to his African hit song "Gua", he reflects on his
extraordinary, often violent life.
An escaped child soldier from southern Sudan, Jal is being hailed as
one of the hottest things to hit the African music scene for years.
Gua � meaning "power" in Arabic and "good" in his native Nuer
Language � was a top 10 hit in Kenya last year and brought him a
growing following in the united States.
On the song, which mixes reggae beats over a background of southern
Sudanese female singers, her raps with other former soldiers who were
among an estimated 10,000 children recruited by both government and
rebels during Sudan's 20 year civil conflict.
"The only thing I feared was the helicopter gunship," Jal, now in his
late-20s, recalls. "They're bulletproof, so you could see the pilot
laugh as your bullets bounced off.
"Then he'd turn his guns on you."
Jal, the son of a former police officer who fled the north to join
the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), said he willingly
joined up to fight with the rebels at the age of eight.
"We'd seen our houses burned, we'd seen the war taking place, we'd
seen the killing," he said in London, where he is working in
collaboration with venerated northern Sudanese musician Abdelgadir
"So, we had that bitterness. When they asked if we wanted to learn to
shoot we said: "Yes! Yes!".
Jal says he was lucky to survive the conflict. After escaping from
the SPLM with 400 other child soldiers, he was found in a refugee
camp in southern Sudan by British aid worker Emma McCune, who
smuggled him to Kenya on an aid flight. "I was hiding around bags,
I'd hide and crawl," he said. "When a bag was moved, I moved with the
When McCune died in a car crash in 1993, Jal was alone again aged 14,
and it was around that time that he began to discover music, holding
concerts to raise funds for ex-child soldiers and Nairobi street kids.
"It was more about appreciating God, of everything he did for me," he
It was also at this time that he was reunited with sister, from whom
he had been separated for years.
"She was looking for me. She walked to Ethiopia and then to Kenya and
a guy said to her `We know your brother. He's a singer in Kenya."
When his sister got in touch with Jal, he was unsure that she really
was who she said she was.
"Then when I smiled, she smiled � my teeth, my dimples. Oh! Surely
you are my sister," he said. Showing the siblings' shared dimples as
In spite of his experiences, Jal said that on his last trip to
Khartoum he did not experience hostility, making him optimistic about
his country's future and the part his music will play in it.
A peace agreement between the government and rebels early this year
has improved the situation and spurred the process of demobilisation
of child soliders.
"There's a lot of work that needs to be done and if the government
wants to succeed they have to look to our culture," Jal says. "They
have to allow the shaab (people), the muwatineen (citizens), to dance
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