Human Rights Activist, Hip Hop Musician, Author and Diversity Campaigner
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From his start in life as a child soldier in the war-torn region of Southern Sudan in the early 1980s, Emmanuel Jal has come through a huge number of struggles during his life to become a successful and acclaimed recording artist and peace ambassador.
Drawing on his personal experiences and background, he speaks and performs with a strong message of reconciliation and peace, and has addressed the UN, US Congress, the Carter Centre and the very highest level of several governments.
During his career, he has been involved with a number of global charity organisations, including the British Council, the Child Soldiers Initiative, Amnesty International and Oxfam. He has spoken alongside major players in the world of global humanitarianism, including Kofi Annan and Martti Ahtisaari for CMI in Finland, Matt Dillon for Refugees International and Angelina Jolie at the ICC for Cinema for Peace. Emmanuel was invited to speak at Richard Branson’s Virgin Unite conference on Necker Island in May 2014. He has continued to support and work alongside Amnesty International as one of their main spokespeople.
In 2008 a full-length documentary on his life was released. The film, ‘Warchild’, won 12 prestigious film festival awards worldwide. In the same year, his autobiography, also called ‘Warchild’, was published by Little Brown.
Emmanuel has released five award nominated studio albums: The Key, Gua, Ceasefire, Warchild and See Me Mama. His live appearances have included Live 8, Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday Concert and the One Concert for his Holiness the Dalai Lama. He has collaborated and performed alongside artists such as Peter Gabriel, Nelly Furtado, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Joss Stone, Nile Rodgers and Alicia Keys.
Emmanuel co-starred with Reese Witherspoon in the Warner Brothers motion picture, The Good Lie which tells the story about the journey of four young Sudanese refugees (based on The Lost Boys of Sudan) who win a lottery for relocation to the United States. The film made its debut to rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival before being released in October 2014. Emmanuel has also appeared as the adult lead in the major motion picture Africa United; a Pathé, UK Film Council and BBC Films presentation in association with Warner Bros, released in October 2010.
Also in 2010, Jal released ‘We Want Peace’, part of a wider campaign of the same name that called for peace, protection and justice for all of Sudan, as well as calling for an end to all conflicts that affect innocent people around the world. This campaign is supported by a number of A-list stars and leaders, including George Clooney, Alicia Keys, Richard Branson, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan. Through social media and fan participation, the campaign has grown in strength and Emmanuel’s message of peace has resonated particularly amongst young people, allowing them to connect to larger social and political issues through emotional empathy. With the support of organizations such as Free The Children, Amnesty International, Ford Foundation and many others, Emmanuel has taken ‘We Want Peace’ on the road and spoken to hundreds of thousands of young people from all over the world, touring across Mexico, the UK, the US, Kenya, Zambia and Canada. Often these tours include visits to community centers, youth detention centers and prisons where Emmanuel has been able to speak first hand to young people who have become disengaged with education and society.
For his outstanding commitment to peace building, Jal was awarded the Common Ground Award in 2011, and became part of an elite group of award holders, such as Desmond Tutu and Mohammad Ali. In 2012, he was asked to be a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum, and performed at the G20 summit in Mexico.
Emmanuel is also the creator of Jal Gua, a gluten free super food powder made of organic sorghum and organic muringa, which has 140% iron, 45% Vitamin C and 40% Vitamin B1 of the daily recommended intake. Jal Gua has a distribution deal with Pilling Foods in Ontario, Canada and is currently stocked in physical stores as well as online: www.jalgua.org
Alongside cofounder Paul Lindley, Emmanuel created ‘The Key is E”– a social business and charity channelling the power of education, entrepreneurialism and creativity – to impact social change. The project identifies and invests in inspiring projects across the African continent. The Key is E is also committed to engaging young people and the African Diaspora in a shared vision that shows together, we are a compelling agent for positive change. This journey is led through a multi-tiered educational approach which harnesses the power of creativity and music, engages schools and ignites dreams.
Emmanuel founded Gua Africa in 2006 in order to promote education in Africa through academic sponsorships to refugees who have survived war and genocide, construction of classrooms and the provision of resources such as books, pencils and teacher’s salaries that ensure schools remain open during times of emergency. Projects are based in both South Sudan and Kenya with a focus on providing education to children and young adults who would otherwise be denied this opportunity.
"Emmanuel Jal somehow managed to be inspiring, hilarious, and meaningful at the same time. He was able to keep the entire audience engaged and definitely left his mark. He was amazing!" Lina Maragha, attendee, THIMUN Conference Qatar 2016
"Emmanuel showed us that no matter where you come from or who you are, you can make a difference, and I think that's had so much influence on my life and way of thinking ever since."
Satadru Sanyal, attendee, THIMUN Conference Qatar 2016
"He [Emmanuel] leaks life and passion for his cause, which given his circumstances and troubled past, is more than understandable... moreover, it’s addictive to listen to.”
Kate Robertson, RSCG
"Listening to what he [Emmanuel Jal] said I felt really inspired to help make a change. He inspired me because it showed me that even at your darkest moments good things are to come." Virginia Tech
"He is an extraordinary artist, led by the heart. A man on a mission with the potential of a young Bob Marley with a generosity and compassion in his approach to the world that is an inspiration to me." Peter Gabriel
“One of Africa’s most important artists.” Aljazeera