Emmanuel Jal

20:34 Eva Kesh 0 Comments

She messaged me that night with contagious excitement. "He's invited me to some event and you have to come with me", I agreed off-course, I was eager to meet this man that had utterly captivated her attention. Black-Stallion is not easily impressed by men. She seemed nervous, her strong resilient don't-mess-with-me aura had ebbed away to reveal a different kind of beauty. One that I had not seen before, it reminded of me a young girl; shy and excited to meet her hero. Girly excitement filled the rest of our conversation.
I admitted that I didn't know who Emmanuel Jal was and so she told me parts of his story: He was forced to become a child soldier in Sudan but found courage to run away to safety. She spoke of the difficulties that he'd encountered, the main one being hunger, at one point in the book, he said he was going to eat his friend.  He was taken to Kenya by an English woman which is where he lived for several years. She moved to the end of the story, where he gets re-united with his siblings. She was curious to know the rest of the story, and I was intrigued by his story. "It's called War Child, you should read it" she encouraged. She was going to bring her copy of the book and a pen.

The day to meet him came and I arrived on-time -to my surprise-. I attempted to make myself busy by foraging my bag for lipstick and my phone near the exit at the train station, when a friend noticed me. I told Reneo about the event and to my relief he was going to the same place too. I didn't know the area so Reneo led the way and we walked together. When we arrived, I went inside and a tall dark man saw me lingering at the doorway and asked me "are you coming in?". "Yes" I said, "but I'm waiting for my friend". He said "Ok" and I walked away to make a phone call and he went back into the room, it was filled with mellow sounds by the live band playing and mummers from the seated guests. I called Black-Stallion to check where she was. Sometime later she arrived and we were seated listening to live band while sipping on cocktails. "That's him" she said, as the tall man walked across the room, I realised it was the same man who'd asked me if I was coming inside the room; it was Emmanuel. 

After a couple of songs he was dancing close to our table to a soulful husky voice on the mic. Reneo called him over and we all greeted Emmanuel. He and Black-Stallion started conversing, she was intrigued with his life after the book. He humbly answered all her questions. 
I noticed that there was no ego in his answers or for fame, he was graciously humble in his being and presence. It wasn't until a few days ago -when I saw an article of him on the Evening Standard- that I remembered this story. I'm going to read his autobiography War Child. It's beautiful to see that he can inspire and play an active part in ending oppression of South Sudanese people. 

The article: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/the-former-child-soldier-with-a-very-unpalatable-message-about-gangs-9115259.html

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