War Child: A Child Soldier's Story
In the mid-1980s, Emmanuel Jal was a seven year old Sudanese boy, living in a small village with his parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. But as Sudan's civil war moved closer―with the Islamic government seizing tribal lands for water, oil, and other resources―Jal's family moved again and again, seeking peace. Then, on one terrible day, Jal was separated from his mother, and later learned she had been killed; his father Simon rose to become a powerful commander in the Christian Sudanese Liberation Army, fighting for the freedom of Sudan. Soon, Jal was conscripted into that army, one of 10,000 child soldiers, and fought through two separate civil wars over nearly a decade.
But, remarkably, Jal survived, and his life began to change when he was adopted by a British aid worker. He began the journey that would lead him to change his name and to music: recording and releasing his own album, which produced the number one hip-hop single in Kenya, and from there went on to perform with Moby, Bono, Peter Gabriel, and other international music stars.
Shocking, inspiring, and finally hopeful, War Child is a memoir by a unique young man, who is determined to tell his story and in so doing bring peace to his homeland.
cried. “Much blood will have to be shed. But is there anyone here tonight who can say they have not already seen it spilled? Who can raise their hand and say they haven’t seen their house burned, their sisters raped, their mothers beaten?” The officer stared down at us, his eyes black like charcoal as he waited to see if anyone would move. No one did. “The Arabs have shown no mercy,” he roared. “They are to blame for every drop of blood spilled, for every child left lying in the dust, for every
was always too scared to climb down from his tree and speak to her because of the lions. “Day after day he sang, and as the days turned into weeks and months, the man told himself that he had to be brave because the beautiful girl would never want to marry a coward who stayed hidden up a tree. So one day he decided to climb down. “But as his feet touched the ground, he saw a lion in the distance and he started running. Soon he was going so fast that his legs flew in the air behind him and his
when they came for Lam and trigger the explosives. Then they would be ours to eat. I did not look back at my friend as we left him lying in the dark savanna. I felt nothing as I returned to lie on my sleeping mat and waited for the hours to slip slowly by until the sound of the grenades came. I was like a picture drawn in the dust that was slowly being blown away onto the wind. When the explosion finally came, I moved to get up. My head felt heavy, the bones weighing me down, as I tried to lift
orphans who came for help. Drug addicts would also come in the middle of the night, and Mrs. Mumo would feed and pray for them. By day she raised money for the children’s home owned by her church and even went into the slums to talk about God to the gang leaders. “He is here to help us all if we are willing to listen to Him,” Mrs. Mumo would tell me. From the moment we met her, Mrs. Mumo started helping the Lost Boys and CASSY. She was like an engine bursting into life, and soon she became
inspired me,” she said softly, and my heart felt full as I heard those words. “Thank you,” I told her. We smiled at each other. AFTERWORD TWO MILLION DIED during the war in Sudan—more than the casualties of Angola, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Liberia, the Persian Gulf, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Rwanda put together. I do not try to reduce the suffering in those countries by using this number, only to explain how high a price my people have paid in a war fought largely over oil. I am