WARCHILD - Emmanuel Jal
55’45”- March 2010
- In 1983, civil war erupted in southern Sudan.
-Rebels of mostly Christian and Animist South battled the Arab-dominated government in the North.
- The war left two million people dead and four million people displaced.
- More than 10,000 child soldiers fought during the two-decade-long war.
- Emmanuel Jal was one of them.
[00:00:44] Emmanuel Jal performs rap in front of a classroom in the Kakuma Refugee Camp
([00:00:50] Title Post: Kakuma Refugee Camp, Northern Kenya – 2007)
Emmanuel Jal: This rap I’m doing is doing is a personal thing, it’s…it’s about me, about my country and what I face. Are you guys ready?
Class: Yeah, yeah
Emmanuel Jal: OK, My dreams are like torments, my every moment, voices on my brain of friends that were slain. Friends like Luol who died by my side of starvation. We used to raid villages, stealing chickens, goats and sheeps. Anything we could eat. I knew it was rude, but we needed food, and therefore I was forced to sin. Forced to sin to make a living. Sometimes you gotta lose to win. Never give up, never give in. Left home at the age of seven. One year later I leave with an AK47 by my side…slept with one eye open wide, run, duck, played dead and hide. I’ve seen my people die like flies. Yigish, Yigish. I want to fight, day and night, sometime I’m doing wrong in order to make things right, It’s like I’m living a dream. First time I’m feeling like a human being. Ah! The children of Darfur your empty bellies on the tele, now it’s you that I am fighting for. I ask God questions; what am I hear for? Why are my people poor? Innocent people die every day, and I ask God why and why? When the rest of the children were learning how to read and write, I was learning how to fight. That’s my story.
[00:02:17] Class clapping
Emmanuel Jal (v/o and on camera): When a child is born, the child is free. You see, they don’t know who can be their enemy. I’ve lost my childhood, but at the moment, I am moving with what I have, and with what I can achieve.
[00:02:48] Rap, Forced to Sin
John Prendergast: In southern Sudan, they were literally fighting a war of survival. What future do they have in the midst of this conflict when their villages are being destroyed and their families are being displaced.
Evans Maendeh: It’s very dangerous if you give somebody who has nothing to lose a weapon.
[00:03:13] Child solider with rifle
Ben Parker: Just about anybody you talk to in Southern Sudan – they have a mind-boggling story to tell, and had you lived through a quarter of it, you would be on your analyst’s couch, weekly – for the rest of your life. They have lived through hell.
[00:03:30] Rap, Forced to Sin (continued)
Emmanuel Jal: I’m born in a place called, Tong in Sudan, in Bahr al-Ghazal state. And I was born in the time when the war was happening.
([00:04:29] Title Post: SPLA – Sudanese People’s Liberation Army)
SPLA was formed, and when it was formed, it brought a lot of tension. The Arabs came and captured my town, and people were killed seriously. Their houses were burned, their cattles were killed. Some families wept. There was a mass killing whereby they had put a lot of fuel in the Savannah grasses, they light up that much and kill many. So my dad decided to escape and join SPLA. We were left with my mom. We managed to reach where my grandmother was which was in South Sudan, a place called, Bentiu. I have strong memories about my grandma being there with us, telling us stories, you know, keeping our mind busy. Our Gran used to work hard, and that’s how she was educating her kids. But Bentiu it wasn’t even safe. The government forces came, and we’d run and hide under the beds. My mom used to keep us under arms, and hold us tight, and tell us: Don’t worry, it’s going to be safe. Jesus is around and you’ll be OK. So she kept on praying. When we used to see aid dropped from the skies, the bag of maize, and we’d run for it, and you’ll see it, something with USA, in my heart I say, one day, I will go to America.
Plane lands in Washington D.C.
Emmanuel Jal: A decree was brought whereby all the children should be taken to Ethiopia to go to school. The villages didn’t want to take their kids, and I didn’t want to go, but my dad was given a big office in SPLA. He was told, OK, if your son go, then the rest of the people sons will be secure. So my dad commanded that have to go so people came and collected me. We’re put on a ship. We join a group of hundreds of kids together.
Like One AM water started coming from this side of the boat. Then, because we are not taught what to do, we ran on this other side. The boat turn around, and went down deep into the ground. So I remember my mom inside the water … Out of 360, only 50 people survived. Parents that heard the news came running, everyone is running to see the kids, and they pulled the kids out, and hug them, and cry with them. Those who didn’t find their children would cry hard and cry, but for me, no one came at all. No one came to see me, either my cousin, or my sister or my dad.
This is one of the worst part in my life whereby I miss my mom. The next day, they said, no we can’t go home, we have to walk to Ethiopia. So, we started walking. There was a magician who came and did his magic…you know, he wait for a certain star to come and he would start speaking magic and prophecy about things that are about to happen, and all this.
And he came and did some magic and told us, you’re mother’s dead.
[00:09.04] Rap Warchild, Emmanuel Jal on stage
Map of Sudan
Dan McCarey: The war begins in the eighties, it’s about marginalization, and it’s about the right of the southerners to have some say in their religion, some say over their finances, and some say over how they are governed. The parties that fought in the war can be divided simply between the northern administration and Khartoum and the Sudan people’s liberation movement.
Ted Dagne: This is a movement that did not have, you know, the kind of support that other liberation movements have. They didn’t have the Soviet Union, they didn’t have the United States, they had to do it on their own.
Map of Sudan
John Prendergast: In southern Sudan, and the Nuba Mountains, and Southern Blue Nile, these three areas together, fought the central government for twenty years. When people talk about genocide in Darfur these are the same tactics that were used in southern Sudan, and perfected in southern Sudan. You know, aerial bombing, poisoning of wells, forced displacement, enslavement, and attacks on civilian population. The best estimates, and they’re just frankly wild estimates are that two point two million people died as a direct result of the war.
Evans Maendeh: It was a mess of war that you can kill anybody, be it a child, a woman or a man…anybody.
Emmanuel singing on stage, Warchild
Map of Sudan
Emmanuel Jal: We got into Ethiopia, wow, it was beautiful. It’s like city of many young children, almost all the tribe of southern Sudan’s kids were collected. There were Nubis, there were Dinka, there were Nuer, there were Shuluck. After some time, I developed some languages, and when you get to learn somebody’s story it’s really sad. Some would say their cows were taken, some of them, their parents were killed when they’re watching. Their stories were really, really sad.
Title Post: UN Camp for Sudanese Refugees, Fugnido, Ethiopia – 1989)
Interviewer: (translated) Where is Emmanuel Jal?
Young Emmanuel Jal’s friend: Jal is right there. Jal, come over here. Tell them your story.
Young Emmanuel Jal: I talked yesterday until the sun went down.
Young Emmanuel Jal’s friend: I talked too. Look where the sun is.
Title Post: In 1989, Emmanuel was filmed by a documentary crew in Fugnido)
Emmanuel Jal: I was the spokesperson for all the kids. I used to talk a lot and when the United Nations come and visit they have to ask where I am.
Young Emmanuel Jal’s friend: (translated) Did you come from there?
Young Emmanuel Jal: That’s the way we came here. People ahead of us were eaten by a crocodile. We found a body in the water…but we couldn’t tell what had happened to it. Then the crocodile came out of the water and started swinging its tail. So we threw a grenade into the river. Boom! Then all the crocodiles were gone.
Emmanuel Jal: One day we were asked how many kids are willing to be trained, like to be soldiers. Everyone was interested. No one was forced. For me my desire was to revenge what happened in my village and I said, OK. I’m gonna to learn how to fire a gun. We’re all happy. We couldn’t sleep that night because we know tomorrow we are going to be trained.
Ben Parker: A lot of the training of the rebel forces took place in…in the refugee camps of Ethiopia, and child soldiers were used by the SPLA in very large numbers.
Evans Maendeh: They were between six and twelve, most of them. They were trained to fend for themselves, and they were also trained now to handle weapons.
Children singing: [translated]
My boy, what is your home?
The pencil is my home.
The pencil is the key to all the jobs. My boy…
Emmanuel Jal: What they used to do sometime if the UN come, we used substitute the songs, like our war songs…Maybe make the song about the pencil is my home, but in the time, when the UN is gone, we change it and we say AK47 is my father and my mother. The United Nations didn’t know there was training going on, but one day I told them that actually the food you bring us, we share it with SPLA…an adult close to me would come and slap me and say what are you saying. I was trying to speak the truth, but I was not allowed to speak it.
Emmanuel Jal arrives at International Crisis Group, Washington D.C.
Emmanuel Jal: John Prendergast is a key person because he’s written books about my country so he’ll tend to know more than me even! I thought if I meet him, maybe we can work together in a way to pass the message stronger.
John Prendergast: I’m a big fan of yours by the way. I like your music, it’s great.
Emmanuel Jal: I’ve just come to see how you do your work in making governments make strong policies. For me personally I believe when the government of Sudan is preparing for peace, it’s preparing to go to war. It’s like a game of chess, dividing the country so that they can rule. But what I don’t understand is the international community, or the governments, value money more than the people.
John Prendergast: On the European side and the Chinese, they’re all invested in the oil sector.
Title Post: Bentiu Oil Fields- Southern Sudan)/ Omar al-Bashir
Many of these countries are selling arms to the Sudanese government so they have economic interests that prevent them from acting more aggressively to counter genocidal crimes that have been committed by the government. But the US has a different interest in Sudan that prevents us, up till now, from doing anything more meaningful. And that is the clever leaders in Khartoum who hosted Osama Bin Laden during the 1990s, are now sharing information about what they learned in the 1990s about the Al-Quaida network, are sharing it on a regular basis with the United States. So even though Bush called what is happening in Darfur genocide, counter-terrorism trumps everything.
Emmanuel Jal: When I realized the Americans’ interest was terrorism, I understand OK they want to protect their people. But what bothers me is, even after the World Wars, different nations swore and said “nothing like this shall ever happen again”.
Black & white photos of dead bodies
[00:18.02] Blue stage light, then Emmanuel Jal raps, Vagina
Map of Africa
Dan McCarey: Oil is discovered in the Bentiu area. This area is on the borderline between north and south Sudan. By most maps it’s part of the south. This created another dynamic to the conflict.
John Prendergast: Oil has the extraordinary potential to lift large segments of the population out of the poverty they are mired in now, but of course, that’s not what’s happening with the money. Most of the oil money is going in the pockets of the government of Sudan in Khartoum. The money that doesn’t go into people’s pockets is used to fund the war.
[00:19.16] Soldiers Marching with weapons, shantytowns
Ted Dagne: Just outside of Khartoum you have hundreds of thousands of displaced people who live in shantytowns that the international community has to come and feed. The government in the north is more interested in literally in sucking out of the oil from the south, rather than take care of its own people.
Kids singing and clapping rifles
Emmanuel Jal: Music has got so much power to strengthen you and forget like you are even small or…you may think you are a giant. The young children used to sing, we used to sing in Fugnido. It’s like, this land of Deng and Nyal, this land of Garang. This land, this is our land. We’re not going to let it go. We have AK47, we’re gonna shoot you with it, we’ve got RPK and RPM, and we’re going to use it. Then we have the RPG, you know the grenade launchers. We’re gonna use that too – to fire – Boom.
[00:21.04] Boys running with weapons
Emmanuel Jal: People sing a lot before they go to war, but as you’re going to progress the town people tend to be quieter, and everybody begin to be nervous. After you start the first bullet, the fear run away and you engage in the battle.
Karim Chrobog (interviewer): How many battles have you participated in?
Emmanuel Jal: Four…four…
Title Post: Anacostia High School, Washington, D.C.)
[00:21.36] High School students, auditorium
Emmanuel Jal: Hello everyone – are you guys alright? I feel like I’m in Africa, you know, seeing all these faces that look like me, you know…so…I don’t like talking about my story most of the time so let me put the story into music.
Emmanuel begins to rap Warchild, blue & brown striped shirt
[00:22.08] These kids have got through tough situations and life wasn’t easy for them. Some of them come from families where their parents are drug addicts and some of them have been dealing with single parents…some lost both, in my heart I say that they are war children…children that have experience different kind of war.
[00:22.33] Emmanuel Jal with microphone
Emmanuel Jal: You guys are amazing! If you go to Africa I’ll stop singing because you guys dance better than me!.. Children are very innocent. So when you give them the right information they’ll carry that and when they grow they’ll try to practice it. But if you plant negative seeds into them, they’re going to practice it.
Emmanuel Jal: Is there any more questions?
Anacostia High School student: Did you ever kill anyone?
Emmanuel Jal: That’s a heavy question. You know, when you go to war, and you are young, sometime don’t even know where you are shooting at. You just fire in the bush, and assume you’ve killed someone. It’s just like, Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom, you see the bushes running…then you dive…and then…Boom Boom Boom… We had so much hatred, there’s one of this…guy he has no gun, he has no anything. We want to beat him with our hands, then cut him with machetes and finished him to death…and seeing him, is like you are screaming, you are hitting him on his head. I remember kicking the guy on his back here.
[00:23.55] Group with guns standing around body
There is a certain joy of feeling like you’re a man, and you’ve achieved something…we cut him into pieces, basically, and beating him to death…
[00:24.23] Piles of stones, for graves
Young Emmanuel Jal: [translated] This is my bed. And this is the blanket I brought from Sudan. But I got the bed here.
[00:24.33] Young Emmanuel Jal, looking down
Interviewer: What are your dreams and hopes?
Young Emmanuel Jal: I want to be able to study in the daytime. And in the morning. And I want a day that I can just live…so I can build my house…where there aren’t any problems that could destroy it.
([00:25.02] Title Post: U.S. Congress Staff Briefing)
Emmanuel Jal: I am a product of the war at my home…and I’ve never known that someday I’ll come and be in a place like this. I haven’t gone to school to give you facts and lecture, but let me just give you a short story.
[00:25.18] Soldiers sitting in circle under tree
Emmanuel Jal: Some soldiers and other young people plan an escape. I was sleeping, someone wake me, Emmanuel, wake up. I hear him and say, what’s happening, he say shut up so I say OK. This guy told me, look, we’re leaving this place, it’s dangerous. You can go to your village if you want. I asked why didn’t you inform me that there’s an escape. Then he told me OK, the reason you’re not told is because you have a big mouth, and you’ll start telling people. So they even didn’t make sure even that I ready.
[00:25.53] Pan across map
First, one month, we had enough food, but the food got finished, and when the food was finished so everyone was told we apply the basic soldier skills of survival.
[00:26.06] Soldiers walking through desert
So, the second month, thing was becoming intense. Soldiers were forced to put guns in their fellow soldiers and tell them to fill a cup with urine whether they could drink it.
[00:26.22] Shots of skeletons and dead people in the dirt
The people who drink the urine, it disturbed them so much that they get irritated and they just shoot themself. For me, I was frustrated and many times I was attempted like I just want to shoot myself. Vultures come and take the dead bodies, so now we would depend on them and try to shoot and eat them, but they realize we depend on them so they begin to keep off.
[00:26.55] Kid with gun looking at camera, group of soldiers standing around
The hunger become more intense. They said the situation whereby human beings are forced into do weird things
[00:27.07] Jal addressing Capitol Hill crowd
One night I was hungry so I was sleeping next to my friend who-who was about to die.
The people smelled delicious even the one who was not dead. You look at them, they smell like food, you know, you just want to eat them.
[00:27.22] Close up of soldiers looking down
Remembering how my mom used to do our thing, so I say, OK, God, I’m hungry. Like around 8:00am a bird came at a very low level that I can’t even miss slapping it, but I have no strength to do it. So my friend, who later died shot it. I ended up eating everything from the nails to intestine to the big feathers, just biting it full. Then after that moment we started having more vultures coming. Wild animals come foolishly very close you just shoot them, so we had so much food.
[00:28.02] Child soldier with chicken in hand walking
What I believe is a lot of people you could tell them a situation then if you touch only their minds, they will only act temporally. But if you touch their heart then they’ll cut it with passion.
[00:28.16] African American woman, audience member asks question
Capitol Hill Audience Question 1: Did you ever find out when you were born or how old you are?
Emmanuel Jal: The town I left, I’ve never gone back up to now so I’m waiting to meet my dad to tell me when I was born. I don’t know actually known when I was born…yeah…but I guess to be 26, 27 or 25, some…somewhere there. If you have a friend, tell her I’m available.
[00.28.52] Laughing audience
Capitol Hill Audience Member 2: Um, I thank you too for coming…um, it’s very…your story is very, very moving…um…I wanted to know if you had a myspace page so that I could tell my friends about you, about your music, about your story.
Emmanuel speaking to audience, view from behind Emmanuel
Emmanuel Jal: myspace/emnanueljal, just one word, and I could give my contacts.
Capitol Hill Host: I’d like to thank everybody for coming out. Thank you for your questions.
[00:29.31] Emmanuel walking, viewed from behind, hall of Capitol
Emmanuel Jal: Talking about my story always depresses me, but when I see the reaction in the people faces when I testify with them it also give me a different impact.
[00:29.55] Emmanuel Raps Baaki Wara
Emmanuel Jal: There’s no one really, really standing for us except the normal people. Like the people who are not in the government, the normal civilians because they know something is wrong and their conscious is good. They are the one who are giving to the aid, they are the one who are doing the active work, and they are the one who actually have the power to remove the politician. I want to push myself to the people because the people are the one who can change the government.
Concert attendee 1: When you deliver a message as music it touches people without much effort.
Concert attendee 2: It’s honest, it’s no bitches, no blings, no hos. I hope people hear it, go out and talk about it.
Concert attendee 3: He represents the youth of Sudan, you know…he represents us … love and respect, love and respect…
Emmanuel Raps Baaki Wara, concert goers, dancing
[00:32.10] Young Emmanuel Jal, Close up
Young Emmanuel Jal: (translated) My heart. My heart wants to learn how to fly an airplane. To make it so I can visit my family. That’s all I want to say right now.
Emmanuel Jal: See, going back to Africa is deep because as I go to Africa, I’m gonna visit places that has a special attachment to my story. Going to meet my family, my grandma, my uncle, my dad, my brothers and sisters so…it’s going to be very emotional.
Map of Africa
Karim Chrobog (interviewer): So are you excited?
Emmanuel Jal: Sort of, in a way.
Title Post: Emmanuel hasn’t seen his family in Southern Sudan in 18 years. Before he returns, he’ll visit Kakuma, a UN camp for Sudanese refugees in Kenya…
Title Post: Kakuma Refugee Camp, Northern Kenya)
Sudanese musicians playing
Emmanuel Jal: It’s not easy to be in a refugee camp. In a camp it’s depressing, it’s like you don’t move forward. Some people don’t have an income. They have just been given food. You eat you sleep, no proper education. Maybe you are taught A, B, C, D and 1, 2 3, that’s it, nothing else.
[00:34.25] Man, close up, smiling, hat on, read jacket
Refugee: I’m Babus John Jollet and may God bless you, I am a Sudanese by tribe.
Emmanuel Jal: I wanted to visit Karkuma because of the lost boys.
Lost Boys standing in circle
They know my music, they know what I do, they hear me about the things I do. I think that’s what was inspiring them. And gave me the platform for them to take what I’m saying serious.
[00:34.44] Students listening to Emmanuel Jal
Emmanuel Jal: It’s a bad name that we’ve been given. We are called lost boys because most of us never knew where their parents are and we all come from war torn regions.
The lost boys that have gone out there. The reason you are seeing that they couldn’t come and see you is not because they don’t love you, they do. Life is difficult, really, really, really difficult out there. You see you are going there you have no moms supporting you, you are yourself. Many kids out there have their mom, their fathers and they are putting them in school and paying the money. Then, they have to work, maybe four, four jobs, then at the same time go to school.
[00:35.28] Students listening
Don’t hate your brother when they haven’t sent you something. They are working hard…yeah…but I thank God for making me capable to actually come here and speak for you.
[00:35.39] Boy with scars
A lot of you guys have a story, some is even worse than mine. Difficulties that you are now going on are to give you energy to reach your goals.
Student smiling, quickly changes to boys outside, to Emmanuel Kicking Ball (Emmanuel raps Emma in background), shots from refugee camp, Jal as kid
[00:37.02] Soldiers marching in grass
Emmanuel Jal: After two days we arrive in a place called Waat. And when we arrive in Waat I met two ladies, Kristen Colbert and her friend, Emma.
Photo of Emma
One said I want to take him to school, the other one, I want to take him to school, and it was a big fight. And I told them, OK, whoever wins will take me, because I was speaking a little English. Emma planned to take me to Kenya, so she had to smuggle me. So she’d come and talk to the people who were around the plane, confuse them, smile at them and keeping them charmed and everybody is laughing. I was crawling with the bags in the plane.
[00:37.44] Plane landing
So that is how I was smuggled and brought to Kenya.
Map with Kenya
[00:37.59] Shot of Emma smiling
I don’t understand why Emma picked me, but I kind of like believe my mom is in heaven so she’s telling God please watch over my son.
[00:38.15] Solider looking at poster
She was trying to sell ideas to Riek Machar that young boys are not supposed to go to war. And since Riek bought the idea so she managed to disarm many that were in Riek’s army and I think that’s how their relationship began.
Title post: Commander Riek Machar, Current Vice President of Southern Sudan
Picture of Riek M. (red beret) and Emma M (straw hat)
Title post: Emma and Riek married in 1991
Emmanuel Jal: One day when we came back home I was playing chess with one of Riek’s bodyguards and she just left alone. She had a accident, there was a car crash.
[00:38.59] Emma’s years
That’s one of the moment I can remember that I actually cried you know because of the relationship she established between me and her.
Title Post: No longer welcome in Rieck Machar’s house in Nairobi, Emmanuel had to move to the slums.
Emmanuel Jal: It wasn’t easy for me after Emma died in Nairobi. Life became difficult after that. I was just holding my heart, didn’t want to cry or something, but I was swallowing everything inside me. Sometime when I survive in a place I say, why did I survive? Sometimes I used to wish – let me die. I’ve been…I’ve been suicidal, I would say that. Most of the time I was suicidal, but not anymore now.
([00:39.55] Title Post: Nairobi South neighborhood
Emmanuel Jal: This is where my brothers and sisters live and my cousins, and other kids that are a similar story like me so we’re gonna visit. I don’t own the house, I rent it so don’t get confused.
Emmanuel Jal: Shall I knock? Like this…Hello
Emmanuel knocks, opens door
Emmanuel Jal: This is my small sister her name is Nyaruach.
Emmanuel Jal: It’s like I have children, which are 14, 20 and I’m young, but I’m learning to be responsible through them.
Family Member: I’m ashamed to be asking in front of everyone, but I need some money for a new shirt and socks.
(translated): It’s ok this is family stuff.
Emmanuel Jal: My sister has never shared a story with me. And I was quite shocked when, when she was talking about her story and telling, testifying about what happen to her.
Nyaruach: (translated) So many of our people were killed in the war that we didn’t have time to bury them. So we had to throw the bodies into the river and it became terribly polluted. So when my grandmother sent me to the river to get water I had to go below the surface for water that we could drink because of the blood and the bodies.
[00:41.36] Map of Africa, Emmanuel V.O.
Emmanuel Jal: She went to Ethiopia cause she know, ok, my brother is in Ethiopia.
Nyaruach: (translated)On our way to Ethiopia soldiers found us and stopped us. They caught one girl and they raped her. I watched helplessly. There was nothing I could do.
I was just a little girl myself. So I tried to run away, but there were too many of them. They held me down and tied me and the same thing happened to me that happened to that girl.
[00:42.35] Emmanuel hugging his sister
Emmanuel Jal: I am powerless. I can’t…I can’t help her, I can’t do anything. My small sister she got raped three times, you know, and that tend to…to hurt people so much.
Nyaruach: (translated)I want to take a moment to give some advice to parents. Take care of your children and educate them. Some will turn out good and some will turn out bad. But it’s very important to get them an education. I thank God for this moment and I have nothing else to say…What’s going to happen to me? My heart is aching.
Kileleshwa Community Church
[43.37] Smiling man in congregation, jacket, tie
Emmanuel Jal: You may say ok you have gone to war, but this, the other parts that people forget – what about the internal injuries, like what happened on the inside. Kileleshwa Commnuity Church showed me so much love … I started joining the choir, trying to write songs and it started healing me emotionally.
Emmanuel Jal, hands over face, praying (Rap begins)
([44.16] Title Post: The night before Emmanuel’s return)
Emmanuel Jal: I have been a refugee, like, all my life, and you know when you have no home it’s like you have no mother so it’s like I’m going to see my mother. There’s nothing can replace your birth mom, you know. Sudan is like my birth mom.
I want to see my grandmother. That’s the person I want to see and my brothers and sisters. That’s it.
(Title Post: Emmanuel flies to Bentiu to reunite with his family … and to learn how the war has affected his village.)
Emmanuel Jal: I’m back in my home! I can’t believe it you know? This is my land.
[46.22] Emmanuel with large group of children, entering grass hut doors
Emmanuel’s grandmother: (translated) You are a grown man now…Have you seen your sister Nyaruach?
Emmanuel Jal: (translated) Yes. She’s in school in Kenya.
Emmanuel’s grandmother: (translated) She almost died here.
Emmanuel Jal: (translated) She’s doing better now.
[46.41] Emmanuel with grandmother in brown hat
My grandmother did a lot of work you know when we came to Bentiu. She used to make alcohol, she get beaten, she get thrown in jail, she get treated bad, and that’s how she managed to…to feed us, take care of me, and my mom. She’s a strong woman.
Emmanuel Jal: (translated) Grandma, you look strong.
Emmanuel’s grandmother: (translated) Can’t you see I’m going blind?
Emmanuel Jal: (translated) Maybe they can fix it at the hospital.
Emmanuel’s grandmother: (translated) I’ve still got one good one. Only one eye is bad.
Emmanuel Jal: She was so happy to see me and she was shocked the first day I arrived.
Emmanuel Jal: This is the photo I find in my grandma house. And they all know that this woman smuggle me to Kenya and put me ahead to the place I have reached so that’s why they have kept the picture together and treasuring it. She was teaching me how to use a computer.
Silhouettes of people walking at sunset
According to tradition I did a mistake, I went to my grandmother’s house first. I’m supposed to go to my Dad house to be accompanied to my Grandma. So the next day I was taken to my Dad house and they were screaming and singing…my mothers gathered, my brothers and sisters, and we threw a party.
Emmanuel’s family dancing and singing
[48.15] Group (family) Traditional “callings”
Here’s my Dad, This my Dad, Simon Jal.
Simon Jal: I’m Simon Jal. This my son. He gone for a long time, and you are all welcome.
Emmanuel Jal: Meeting my Dad put my brain into different echoes started remembering different things. It wasn’t as joyful as I was gonna expect. I was feeling strange because I had things in my heart.
[48.49] Emmanuel, yellow shirt, sitting on chair with family
Karim Chrobog (Interviewer): When is the last time you saw Emmanuel?
Simon Jal: The time I cannot remember it was a very long time…maybe 19…19 80…something…85, 88…maybe Jal knows…
Karim Chrobog (interviewer): Do you remember where you were?
Simon Jal: Yes, yes
Karim Chrobog (interviewer):: Where were you?
Simon Jal: I were here, I was the one who send him with the small boat going to…Bor…Bor to Ethiopia that time.
[49.27] Simon Jal speaking, family in background
Simon Jal: The sister of…of Jal…the elder one…followed by him. The rest is my children different…different…
[49.53] Emmanuel with Child on lap, next to woman in green
Emmanuel Jal: I had issues with my Dad. 360 kids died on that ship that capsized and I happen to be one of the survivors and my Dad did not come…to see me, or even send anybody to come and see if I’m alright. Those are memories that happened to you as a kid, but it’s still my Dad. Then also when...when, when I left how could he let my sister be taken and my sister went through all that.
[50.45] Even though I feel like I say ok I have forgiven I’m tend to be haunted by that kind of thought because those thoughts are coming back
Emmanuel Jal: (translated) Do you have any photos of Mom?
Emmanuel’s grandmother: (translated) I used to have some in a box.
But we used to run around a lot because of the war and the box got lost. Prayers are the only thing that let me survive. We used to run around so much.
[51.11] Emmanuel’s grandmother in brown hat, speaking
Emmanuel’s mother was killed in the war. All of my children except one were killed. But when Emmanuel finally came back here I knew I could finally get some rest. In him, I saw my daughter. And I cried.
Emmanuel Jal: I’m just happy to see my grandma again.
Family Member: (translated) Can you sing for us?
Emmanuel Jal: (translated) You wouldn’t understand my weird songs.
Emmanuel Jal: I’ve come and I’ve seen the place. Leer has no school. There’s no school in a whole place like that. Kids don’t go to school. I can’t afford to put all of them to school one by one, but if there’s a school there where they can go and study with the rest of the kids, and that would be fine.
[52.23] With the music that I’m gonna do I’ll try to raise the funds and find people who are willing to support. The dream shall become true and we’ll build a nice school that people of Leer shall be proud of.
Young Emmanuel’s Teacher: Where are Mrs. Kammar’s children?
Young Emmanuel Jal: Mrs. Kammar’s children are in school.
Plane with Emmanuel takes off
Title Post: After Emmanuel returned from Sudan, he started Gua Africa, a foundation dedicated to building a school in Leer.)