Child soldiers are the worst, they have no plans and don’t know about death

Interview with Emmanuel Jal – Published on Russia Today RT, July 14, 2014.

Child soldiers are the worst – they have no idea about the future and they don’t have children, so they can actually scream as they go forward into battle, Emmanuel Jal, a former child soldier who is now a world-famous rapper, told RT’s Sophie&Co. Jal has lost his mother during the war in South Sudan and became a child soldier, but then his life changed dramatically.  

RT: Emmanuel, you were only about seven years old when your mother was killed in the second Sudanese civil war, then you became a child soldier and were told that AK-47 will be your only parent; that it would be taking care of you from now on. Is this how you really felt? That your life depended on this weapon to survive?

Emmanuel Jal: Well, that’s how most thought… When you’re in the training center you are told that your gun is your father and your mother, so your life depends on it. It’s a situation when people get transformed and brainwashed to do whatever agenda that you are being trained to focus, so the cause becomes more powerful than your beliefs or everything, because you are told that even if your father is against this cause – you can kill him.

RT: Now another thing that you have said is that children who joined the rebels wanted the revenge. Did you at that age understand what revenge was?

EJ: Well, I did understand what revenge was then, but now I can put it into the words. I was really angry as a kid. You see, when you lose everything you own and everything that is your world disappear in front of you, then you are told that your mother is gone and then, because the war itself… different people experience it differently, and you when you’re told that people who are destroying your home there are in such and such place, and you’re given a description – you don’t need to think twice, you want to act of the emotions at that moment.

RT: Going to war and becoming a soldier, I just wonder what it’s like for a kid. I’ve talked to a man, who joined the army in WWII at the age of 12 , I’ve just talked to him recently, now he was telling me that for him it was more of an adventure and a thrill – more than anything else. What was it like for you? Was it a game, or at least, at first?

EJ: Will children don’t know you only die once, so you kind of like don’t understand, don’t know that when you die, that’s it. So, at that moment you’re taken by adrenalin, you want to know what’s going on. But for me, my desire was that I wanted to kill as many Muslims and Arabs as possible, that was one, second – I wanted a bike … //

… RT: And now we come to Emma McCune, the British aid worker who actually saved you. How did you come across her, and, most importantly, why did you trust her?

EJ: Well, what happened is that I ended up in place called Waat, and she and her friend decided to disarm me, and promised me to take me to school; and I always wanted to go to school, but in my mind I had a different plans. I said I’m going to go to this lady’s country, and go to school, join the army, become a pilot, and steal a plane and come back to war. That’s what I had in my head. But everything changed later.

RT:But, Emmanuel, thankfully, right now, you are a very successful hip-hop artist. Your rap is political, it’s all about sending a message out there, you sing about peace, urging people to speak up for their rights. Now, do you feel your message is getting across? I mean, I know that it has landed you in trouble before now – for example, last September, when you went back to South Sudan, you were brutally beaten by police…

EJ: Yeah, the voice is going, so the police beat me because they know the strengths of my voice, so they tried to silence me, and they told me they don’t like activists. They removed their eyes and put into bags, and dropped them into Nile. And so, they were trying to scare me not to talk, but I didn’t keep quiet, I kept doing my thing, because I know why I’m in this. It’s people’s voice, and I’m pushing for justice and equality for freedom, for everybody, through the music, just creating an awareness. So, what I do is mostly for conscious awakening, getting people to understand they have the power to actually change things, not the government.

(full long RT-interview text).
Watch the full version of the interview at RT/Sophie&Co’s page.

Related Links:


Read about Child Soldiers:

Other Links:

Africa And Globalization, on The Bullet, Socialist Project’s E-Bulletin no 1010, by Martin Hart-Landsberg, July 15, 2014;

5 killed, 100+ injured as Moscow Metro carriages derail in rush hour, on Russia Today RT, July 15, 2014;
RT/news team;

Socialism or Barbarism? on ZNet (first on teleSUR English), by Patrick Korte, July 14, 2014;

Brazil suffers World Cup rout amid mounting social tensions, on World Socialist Web Site WSWS, by Bill Van Auken, July 10, 2014;

Free Book Offer for DV Readers during July, on Dissident Voice DV, by Wei Ling Chua, July 1, 2014;

NPWJ and the NRPTT mourn the killing of Salwa Bugaighis, Libyan human rights lawyer and defender, and note with sadness the passing of Florence Ali, women’s rights activist from Ghana, on No Peace Without Justice NPWJ, by Nicola Giovannini, June 27, 2014;

… and this:

Eric Hobsbawm – Age of Extremes, 38.3 min, uploaded by se146np, Nov 11, 2012.

Comments are closed.