Emmanuel Jal visited Kakuma Refugee Camp in partnership with FilmAid International on September 28, during his international We Want Peace Tour. Former Sudan war child and refugee, now hip-hop star and activist, Emmanuel’s visit held special resonance for the international star and his audience. In Kakuma, Jal recorded “Yei,” a song about overcoming struggles and getting through the difficult situations. Created by Silverstone and Jal, the performance featured talented refugee music artists from Kakuma and will be launched internationally with FilmAid International in November. Jal also recorded a music video of one of his hit singles in the beautiful scenery of Kakuma with the help of FilmAid’s student filmmakers. “I am extremely amazed by the great talent in the camp ranging from filmmaking and singing to dancing, and I loved being able to collaborate with them and inspire them through my own experiences,” said Jal.
As part of his We Want Peace Tour, the soft-spoken peace ambassador had an opportunity to speak with the South Sudanese communities at the camp, promoting peace and the importance of entrepreneurism, which he feels is lacking among young people in the community. Jal also engaged the elders in a panel discussion on ways to finding lasting peace in Sudan and the possibility of repatriation for the Sudanese community in Kakuma. As an advocate of women’s rights, Jal pledged funds to the education of women and girls in the Sudan.
On Saturday September 28, Emmanuel Jal and traditional and contemporary dance groups and musical artists treated audiences of many different nationalities in Kakuma to electric performances. The crowds stood through the entire performance, enjoying hit after hit from Jal singing alongside his sister, Nyaruach and his other backup singer Nyamal. Nyaruach and Nyamal traveled from Dadaab refugee camp to be a part of the concert.
As a witness to the atrocities of Sudan’s second civil war and having been a child soldier himself, Emmanuel now uses music to tell his story and advocate for peace. The We Want Peace campaign aims to “raise awareness on the fundamental principles of justice, equality, unification and conflict prevention.” Following his time in Kakuma, Jal took the We Want Peace Tour to Johannesburg, where he performed and spoke at the One Young World Summit in alongside Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, Yunes Mohamed and Bob Geldof. Later this month he will travel to Zambia for a community and school tour in Lusaka.
At FilmAid we are often fortunate to meet individuals who have incredible and unbelievable stories. Occasionally we get to work with someone who has truly seen the darkest parts of humanity only to emerge empowered and motivated to advocate for social justice and human rights. These inspiring individuals are everywhere and all deserve to have their stories told and their voices heard. We are glad to support Emmanuel Jal’s We Want Peace Tour in Kenya.