“Music became the place [where] I was able to see heaven.”
If we are fortunate, music is a place to make something beautiful, to be at peace, and to make others happy. For a former child soldier, music became a means of finding a new life.
We listened to an NPR interview with Emmanuel Jal, an actor, musician and peace activist who was kidnapped at 8 years old and forced to be a child soldier for armed groups living in South Sudan. He saw his village burned and was given an AK-47 and told to kill.
Wanting a different life, Jal and 200 others tried to flee. In the end only 16 young boys would survive and Jal was able to receive an education in Kenya thanks to a British aid worker. Transitioning from a life filled with violence, Jal turned to music.
“So through music I was able to dance, I was able to become a child again,” he told NPR. “And I did not know that I was going to be a recording artist. I was doing it for fun because it kept me busy.”
Now living in Canada, Jal is a hip-hop artist up for a major music award and acted in a movie with Reese Witherspoon called “The Good Lie.”
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