War Child, an award-winning documentary directed by C. Karim Chrobog, chronicles the tumultuous, shocking, inspiring, and ultimately hopeful odyssey of Emmanuel Jal. A former child soldier of Sudan's brutal civil war, he is now an emerging international hip hop star sharing a message of peace for his war-torn land and beloved Africa.
In the early 1980s at the age of seven, Jal was swept into Sudan's civil war, becoming one of 10,000 child soldiers conscripted on both sides of the two decade long conflict. After being forced to do many unimaginably horrible things, he escaped the soldier's camp and trekked for four months through Africa. He was eventually found and adopted by the now legendary British aid worker Emma McCune who had married Sudanese guerrilla commander Riek Machar and convinced him to not employ child soldiers. Shortly after she adopted Jal, McCune died in a suspicious car crash, leaving Emmanuel "orphaned" once again. Jal rose from ruthless child soldier to refugee to rap star. He found his own redemption and life mission through a message of peace that represents one of the 21st centuries' most inspiring and hopeful journeys, and a metaphor for the broader African predicament.
Emmanuel's journey is, in many ways, just beginning. His dream of Gua (peace) in Sudan and prosperity in Africa is threatened by corrupt leaders, genocidal warlords, and Western indifference. Hopefully, Emmanuel's peace quest to make the world a better place through his music, activism and youth education will prove to be far more significant than Emmanuel's former war.
War Child tells the story of Jal's life through his words and music, and remarkable film footage dating back to his childhood. Even at the age of seven, Emmanuel's charisma were so evident that National Geographic focused their own 1980's reportage on him as spokesperson for the children. Today, as Emmanuel travels the World, even into the halls of the US State Department, he takes us through his homeland's tormented history of civil war, assesses the prospects for peace after the country's 2005 ceasefire agreement, highlights the increasing problem of war children, and shines light on the growing African hip hop scene that is tackling the continent's ills through its music.
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