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14 juillet 2008

Sudanese child soldier trades gun for beats

By Emily Geminder, Mediaglobal


It could almost be the archetypal rap song’s story, with its brushes with gunfire and shades of oppression, its long odyssey from violence to redemption. But Emmanuel Jal is no typical rap star. At the age of seven, after witnessing his mother’s death and the rape of his aunt by opposition forces, he was conscripted into the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. He carried an AK-47 that was roughly his height. (...)

Two weeks ago, at a massive concert to honor Nelson Mandela and raise money for AIDS, Jal appeared on stage to an introduction by Peter Gabriel, who called him an artist with “the potential of a young Bob Marley.” Singing his song “Emma,” dedicated to the woman who saved him and some 150 other child soldiers, Jal called out to all those who incite change. Half-dancing, half-tumbling across the stage, his limbs shuddered and shook, faintly possessed with sound. The crowd of thousands pulsed to his words, and Jal looked like a man at peace telling his story. (...)

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