The extraordinary Emmanuel Jal
June 3, 2009 7:23 PM   Subscribe

"By the time Emmanuel Jal was 13, he was a veteran of two civil wars and had seen hundreds of his fellow child soldiers reduced to taking unspeakable measures as they struggled to survive on the killing fields of Southern Sudan. After a series of harrowing events, he was rescued by a British aid worker (Emma McCune) who smuggled him into Nairobi to raise him as her own. To help ease the pain of what he had experienced, Emmanuel started singing..."

"Rap music is amazing, it's beautiful," he says. "But the problem is the lyrics. The person who writes the lyrics, that's the problem."

We find ourselves pushed to
Extremities of circumstances
Where our natural survival instincts
Governs our action's
Which forces us to do things that we
Under normal circumstances
Would consider to be
Inhuman and barbaric

- Forced to Sin

"'Forced to Sin' - in the song I testify about a place where I was tempted to eat the rotten flesh of my comrade, which meant my friend died and I look at him and say I'm going to eat you tomorrow. Because cannibalism, the way, the level of starvation that we went through changed my senses, and I look at my fellow neighbour or my fellow comrade, they smell like food, I want to eat them, my saliva would drop, that I want to eat somebody raw without cooking them. And that was one of the lowest forms that I've been in my life. And after now I became forced to sing as a song become the strength of me, because here I was eating snails, vultures, rats, tempted to eat my friend 'cause there's nothing to eat. And then luckily when a bird came to stop, a crow – I had made a prayer and then a crow came, that crow became the bridge between me and eating my friend. So I didn't eat my friend 'cause I ate that crow.

And after then I met Emma McCune and she smuggled me into Kenya." via.

You would have seen my face on the telly
Flat hungry belly
Flies in my eyes
Head to big for my size ...

This one goes to Emma McCune
Angel to the rescue one afternoon
I'm here because you rescued me
I'm proud to carry your legacy

As well as his music, Emmanuel Jal has founded the organisation Gua Africa which sponsors child survivors of war from Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya to go to school. Their current main project is to build a school in honour of Emma McCune called Emma Academy. His book War Child - a boy soldier's story and documentary of the same name were released this year.
posted by Kerasia (4 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Believe it or not, the position of cannibal rapper has already been, er, filled.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:25 PM on June 3, 2009

I like what I've heard so far, certainly more compelling lyrically than a lot of what ends up on the charts (but isn't that usually the case...).
posted by Salmonberry at 10:28 PM on June 3, 2009

I hate rap. These lyrics, however, are very deep and I could stand to listen to a few songs.

Glad that he is doing better now.
posted by Malice at 11:21 PM on June 3, 2009

His song about/to 50-Cent is pretty good.
posted by joe defroster at 1:38 PM on June 4, 2009

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