SUDAN WATCH: WAR CHILD - THE BOOK: The true story of Sudanese child soldier Emmanuel Jal

Sunday, February 15, 2009

WAR CHILD - THE BOOK: The true story of Sudanese child soldier Emmanuel Jal

Logo Time Article


WAR CHILD:  A Child Soldier's Story

War Child: One of Sudan's Lost Boys Found

TIME Thursday, Feb. 05, 2009

War Child: A Child Soldier's Story
By Emmanuel Jal
262 pages; St. Martin's Press

The Gist:

Writing a memoir based on the memories of an entire childhood filled with the savagery of war would certainly be difficult enough. Doing so after having been trained as a tiny soldier to kill Arabs and Muslims, or jallabas, before even reaching puberty, would prove to be an impossible task for some. Stories of the Lost Boys of Sudan — stolen from their homes and sometimes coaxed by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) to fight a war the children had little understanding of — have emerged bit by bit since the end of the civil war that raged in the country for nearly two decades killing almost 2 million people and displacing millions more.

Emmanuel Jal is one of those boys; now an adult, he travels the world as a rapper explaining the War Child life he lived; he has starred in a documentary of the same name and released both an album and now this book sharing his feelings on the past and the present of a country in unending distress.

Highlight Reel:

1. War as an everyday lifestyle: With the smell of burning flesh in the air and the memories of bodies lying still on the ground, I'd run as if the devil were chasing me. I became good at war.

2. On the foundation of his desire to entertain: Another favorite was the dissing competitions, in which children threw insults at each other to make others laugh. "Your grandmother is so fat that God won't let her into heaven," one boy would shout at another as the crowd laughed ... In the beginning I'd fall silent when it was my turn. But I started improving ... As well as the insults we had to rap for the older boys—tell stories in chanting rhythms to entertain them—and I found that I enjoyed entertaining people.

3. On becoming inured to the desperation and fear of being a child soldier: As time passed, I learned that a body gets used to fear—I didn't shake so much and my stomach stayed still—but a mind doesn't. I thought about God often, and questions filled me. We were all created by God, but if God knew Satan would make so much trouble, then why hadn't He killed him? And who made God?

4. Upon being taken to Kenya for schooling and reintegrating into regular life: I knew I made mistakes in this strange place. When I was given a cup, I broke it; when I ate food at a table, I threw chicken bones over my shoulder onto the floor; and when I played with white children, I made them cry ... I knew I was different because I was a soldier, and although other children never knew my secret, I think they could sense it. I had dreams at night that made me shake and sweat in fear as the war buried inside me came alive again.

The Lowdown:

Jal's story — that of a a 7-year-old who saw every home he knew destroyed, lost his mother to murderers and his father to the SPLA — fits securely in the history of Sudan's second civil war but also stands on its own. Against a beast of a war that spiraled into battles between all those fighting to survive, Jal who struggles not to become a brutal killer of jallabas, eventually succumbs in order to survive. Unlike many of the Lost Boys, however, Jal finds salvation through the grace of two women who steer him toward education. His subsequent life as a rapper and philanthropist trying to save other children from similar pain and anguish leaves hope for the possibility of redemption.

The Verdict: Read
- - -

Emmanuel Jal's autobiography has been sold to St. Martin’s Press with anticipated release of spring 2009.

WAR CHILD - The Book

WAR CHILD - US book cover

War Child: A Child Soldier's Story by Emmanuel Jal (Author), US Version released February 2009 (

A boy soldier's story

War Child UK Version released March 2009 (

Further reading

Sudan Watch, February 15, 2009
Former Sudanese child soldier Emmanuel Jal uses rap to deliver peace message

Sudan Watch, February 15, 2009
WAR CHILD - THE FILM: Former Sudanese child soldier uses rap to deliver peace message

Sudan Watch, February 15, 2009



Blogger Corie328 said...

Join the Outreach Africa: Lost Boys and Girls Foundation Cause on Facebook and give children in Sudan the gift of food, clothing, education, safety, and a future. The Outreach Africa: Lost Boys and Girls Foundation sponsors young Sudanese refugees in Africa, allowing them to attend boarding school where they receive one meal per day, a uniform, an education, and safety. Some of the relatives of these children are themselves refugees, but are living in America. This program benefits them as well, by lifting some of the financial burden that comes with going to school, having two or more jobs, supporting themselves in a foreign land and supporting their relatives in Africa. Join the Cause now!

Thursday, February 19, 2009  

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