One on One
Emmanuel Jal
A former child soldier, the Sudanese singer is now one of Africa's hottest stars.
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2008 08:18 GMT

Sudanese hip-hop singer Emmanuel Jal talks to Riz Khan
This week on One on One, meet young Sudanese hip-hop singer and activist Emmanuel Jal. Aged only seven, he became a child soldier sent from Sudan to fight in Ethiopia's brutal war.

Through a lot of luck and determination, he managed to turn his life around, becoming one of Africa's hottest music stars.
Born in Southern Sudan, he was a little boy when the civil war broke out. His father joined the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and when he was about seven his mother died.

It was decided then that Emmanuel should join the thousands of children travelling to Ethiopia who had been told they would be educated there.
However, many of them were recruited by the SPLA and taken to military training camps in the bush in Ethiopia.

Emmanuel spent several years fighting with the SPLA in Ethiopia and Sudan. When the fighting became unbearable some of the children decided to run away. They were on the move for three months, many dying on the way, until they reached the town of Waat, where the course of Emmanuel's life was to change.
Here he met British aid worker Emma McCune, who smuggled him to Kenya where he began to attend school in Nairobi. Sadly, Emma died in a road accident some months later, but her friends helped Emmanuel continue his studies. 
While studying in Kenya, Emmanuel started singing to ease the pain of what he has experienced and eventually his first single, All We Need Is Jesus, was a hit in Kenya.
His subsequent album releases have gone from strength to strength with worldwide recognition and a moving documentary about his life, War Child, has recently been made in which he journeys back to his home in Sudan for the first time since he left at seven.

He has continued to speak out about the issues about which he feels strongly and is a spokesman for the Make Poverty History campaign, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers and the Control Arms campaign.

Watch part one of this episode of One on One on YouTube

Watch part two of this episode of One on One on YouTube

This episode of One on One aired on Saturday, April 12, 2008

To contact us click on 'Send your feedback' at the top of the page

Watch Al Jazeera English programmes on YouTube

Join our debates on the Your Views page

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.