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Rapper, author, and former child soldier Emmanuel Jal on overcoming trauma

Rapper Emmanuel Jal has released seven studio albums.
Rapper Emmanuel Jal has released seven studio albums.

Emmanuel Jal was born in the early 1980s, not long before his home country of Sudan descended into civil war. The violence tore his family apart and he became a child soldier to survive. 

Emmanuel is profiled in the 2008 documentary “War Child.” It follows him to a refugee camp, where he recounts his story to a classroom of young men. 

As a teenager, Emmanuel discovered the best language through which to tell his story: music. In the time since he’s released seven studio albums

He is also the author of two books: “War Child: A Child Soldier’s Story” and “My Life is Art: 11 Pillars for a Positive and Purposeful Life.”

The latter is his latest literary work and it details his strategy for living with trauma – a process he calls “My Life is Art.” 

We spoke to Emmanuel about his life, and work and how they intersect.

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

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Avery Jessa Chapnick
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