Emmanuel Jal, former child soldier from the age of 7 in Sudan, wowed Nelson Mandela and a huge crowd at his 90th birthday party in London’s Hyde Park with his song “Emma”, sung with the Soweto Gospel Choir. Emma, the song’s namesake, is the British Aid worker who rescued Emmanuel from the Sudanese civil war. Similar to Ishmael Beal’s story, she adopted Emmanuel and moved him to Kenya to live with her. Shortly afterward, she died in a car accident. (A film on Emma’s life called “Emma’s War” is due for release in 2009).
Peter Gabriel introduced the rapper:
“This next artist came out of the horror of a brutal war, a brutal childhood with a clear voice calling out against violence, hatred and materialism. He’s gonna have a huge influence in the world way beyond his music. He’s still developing and exploring his musical voice, but I think you have the opportunity to see someone with the potential of a young Bob Marley. Please give an enormous welcome to the amazing Emmanuel Jal.”
See these earlier postings about the recent film screened at the Tribeca Film Festival on Emmanuel Jal’s life.