Child Soldiers, Charity and Sudan: Why Peace Matters to Emmanuel Jal

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Huffington Post
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Posted: 04/ 4/2012 11:38 am 

He told his story in the 2008 documentary "War Child" (and in his 2009 autobiography of the same name), but Emmanuel Jal's journey from child soldier in the Sudanese People's Liberation Army to international music star wasn't complete until the Republic of South Sudan became an independent country and one of the 193 member states of the United Nations in July, 2011.

"I have a South Sudanese passport now. I am a citizen," Jal told me with a smile.

Yet, even as the performer visited Atlanta, GA and Charlotte, NC last week to support his nonprofit Gua Africa and the We Want Peace campaign with events organized by partner organization Mothering Across Continents, there was the sense that Jal's work to bring peace to his homeland may never be finished.         ...

During his recent visit to the U.S., Jal spoke to students at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte and Kennesaw State University (KSU) outside of Atlanta about peace waging.

Kennesaw State Associate Dean Keisha Hoerrner brought Jal to campus "to share his story of survival and his message of peace."

While at KSU, Jal participated in a March 31 attempt to set a Guinness World Record for creating the largest human peace sign (masterminded by KSU student Jessie Blowers), which, though unsuccessful in its final numbers, served as an inter-generational peace rally and garnered attention from many media outlets. A spirited music performance by Jal followed.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, the event was the perfect antidote to the troubling news coming out of South Sudan, says Hoerrner.

"Jal's lyric, 'We want peace, and we're going to get it' sounds simple," she says. "But it is a powerful message of determination to ensure that we work together to engage in the hard work and the difficult decisions to bring peace to our world."