The Sydney Opera House just wrapped up their Dangerous Ideas series, and I attended an event on child soldiers featuring activist/hip hop artist Emmanuel Jal and author/journalist Kate Adie called “War: Keep Out of Reach of Children.” The panel discussion, chaired by Mark Colvin, explored the historical use of child soldiers with Emmanuel describing his experiences with the Sudanese war and the hardships he overcame. Unfortunately, children are often exploited during war and Kate Adie’s candid contribution to the discussion was beyond informative – I appreciated her unique perspective, including her view that media coverage on war is “absolutely sanitized.”
At only 8 years old, Emmanuel began training to “kill as many Arabs + Muslims as possible.” After years of fighting, British aid worker Emma McCune adopted and smuggled him (and other child soldiers) into Kenya. Unfortunately, she passed away in a car accident and Emmanuel was faced with more hardships. I am inspired by his strength and for sharing his story with the world, despite all the emotional and physical trauma he has endured. During the question period I asked Emmanuel how hip hop has helped him in his healing process and for him, music is “food for his soul” and through this outlet, as well as his Christian faith, he has overcome the anger and bitterness he has carried around with him – something that many conscious hip hop fans can also attest to. He finds comfort through his music and uses this as a forum to educate the world about war and poverty and how we can help people out of this situation.
Emmanuel’s charity Gua Africa has projects in Sudan and Kenya that focus on the very issue of overcoming negative effects of war through education for children and young adults. Also, his book “War Child“(which I got autographed ) and his award-winning documentary by the same name, tells Emmanuel’s harrowing story and how the lives of these children can be improved. The documentary War Child is screening this Friday, October 7th at The Basement in Sydney, followed by an exclusive performance with DJ Silvastone, Sista Savage, Macc-Too, Future of Rap, Mxc Wol and Dark $ Paid featuring Culture Crew.
As a Tamil from Sri Lanka, the plight of child soldiers strikes a particular chord with me and I’m going to try my very best to make it out to The Basement on Friday to check out the documentary and see Emmanuel perform live – I appreciate his realness and how it translates into his music. If you live in Sydney, I encourage you to hit up The Basement on Friday night and feel free to check out Jal’s TED Talk and a Riz Khan feature on Al Jazeera below. Peace. Literally.
Emmanuel Jal Live in Sydney This Friday at The Basement
Straightup, Top Shelf and African Film Festival are excited to announce the Sydney debut of world renowned African hip-hop artist, peace activist and novelist, Emmanuel Jal (South Sudan).
“the potential of a young Bob Marley” Peter Gabriel
Tickets at the The Basement or online:
Early bird ticket buyers get entry to screening of the film “Warchild”, the story of child soldier, Emmanuel Jal.
“Arguably the most important line up of African hip hop ever seen in Australia.”
Emmanuel Jal will be playing with DJ Silvastone (UK) plus Sista Savage, Macc-Too, Future of Rap, Mxc Wol and Dark $ Paid featuring Culture Crew.
In the war-torn region of Southern Sudan, Emmanuel Jal was born into the life of a child solider on an unknown date in the early 1980s. Through unbelievable struggles, Emmanuel managed to survive and emerge as a recording artist, achieving worldwide acclaim for his unique style of hip hop, “Gospel Rap”, with its message of peace and reconciliation born out of his personal experiences. His latest single, We Want Peace feat. Alicia Keys, from his upcoming album, See Me Mama is heavily influenced by this background.
We Want Peace Video
Emmanuel has released three studio albums to date: Gua, Ceasefire and Warchild. selling hundreds of thousands of copies world wide. He is the only musician to have performed at the UN General Assembly receiving no less than three standing ovations. As well as having performed at Live 8, WOMAD UK, V Festival and Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday celebrations.
“I was enormously impressed meeting Emmanuel Jal. He is an extraordinary artist, led by the heart. A man on a mission who I am sure will eventually affect an enormous number of people in Africa at first, and then around the world. I felt I was meeting a man with the potential of a young Bob Marley. There is a generosity and compassion in his approach to the world that is an inspiration to me, and I am sure will be to many others.” Peter Gabriel
In 2005 Silvastone began to tour overseas with Emmanuel Jal doing shows such as The African Hip Hop summit and the MTV EMAs. His production style is wide, ranging from Hip Hop to House and R&B to Indie. The producers that have most influenced Silvastone are Rodney Jerkins, Timbaland, Quincy Jones, and Wookie.
A few years on and Silvastone’s production has grown immensely, DJ-ing on radio stations and clubs in and around London. He had a residency in a number of clubs in Brighton. However it did not stop there for Mr. Stone, as he has travelled the world DJ-ing internationally, in Ghana, Nigeria, New York, New Orleans and LA. Recently working with Sway on his MOBO winning album, The Signature LP as well as with Blak twang on his album “Speaking From Experience”.
In a nutshell: Silvastone is one of the best up and coming Dj/producers in the UK.
We hope you can make it down on the night as it will be amazing!