We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high; make it not, therefore, as wings to self and passion.
Angus Batey, in the Guardian article from which the quote just before the video is taken, describes Emmanuel Jal‘s background:
At the age of 12, Emmanuel Jal was one of 400 children who managed to escape from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, which had turned them into soldiers. They fled through minefields, dodging helicopter attacks. “A distance that should have taken one month to walk took us three,” says the Sudanese rapper, now 28. “We ran out of food. Some turned to cannibalism. I was tempted to eat my best friend. Many times I tried to shoot myself.” Why didn’t he? “Sometimes the bullet did not work,” he says. “Sometimes something just stopped me.”
Today, he’s performing in a corridor in a London council estate, filming the video to his new single, Warchild. “I believe I’ve survived for a reason,” he raps, “to tell my story, to touch lives.” . . . . .
“My mum and my grandmother were beaten by government troops and my auntie was raped in front of me,” he says. “It’s only now that I can describe hating the people that did these things. Before, I didn’t know what name to give that feeling – I just wanted to kill as many of them as possible.”
It is difficult to reconcile the softly spoken Jal of today with the murderous figure he describes. His music and forthcoming autobiography are inspired by a desire to end the horrific abuse to which he was subjected.
I came across a YouTube video of his song for peace on the Charter for Compassion website. It had been tagged as inspirational and I agree. I thought it would be good to share it not least because his life is itself an inspiring example of a great change.
What he said of music, quoted by Angus Batey, is a brilliant insight and explains in part the power of what he does:
“Music is powerful. It is the only thing that can speak into your mind, your heart and your soul without your permission.”