While his South Sudan homeland continues to be ripped apart by a protracted civil war, a former child fighter turned prominent hip-hop artist says he’s not giving up his campaign to end the recruitment of children on the battlefield.
After all, said Emmanuel Jal, a Christian who learned to kill at the tender age of eight, he knows from what he speaks.
“From the time I was young, I was walking around seeing dead bodies of people from my village. People I knew got shot and died next to me,” he said in an interview with Fox News on Monday, where he appeared at an Oslo Freedom Forum event in New York.
“Then, I was recruited as a child soldier and that took me to the next level. As a kid, I had a desire to kill as many Muslims and Arabs as possible.”
Born sometime in 1980 in the South Sudan village of Tonj, Jal was just a toddler when the Second Sudanese Civil War ignited a few years later. At the age of seven, he woke up one morning to learn his mother had been murdered. He was then taken in and indoctrinated by Christian commanders in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which was fighting the increasingly repressive Islamic government.
“I was taken and trained – I was taught how to fire a gun, how to attack, how to fight, how to take of myself,” he recalled. “The training was difficult, but it would have been much harder if I hadn’t seen all that I had seen. The flashbacks, the suffering of the people, that bitterness is what allowed me to get through and finish the training.”
SOURCE: Hollie McKay