NSB Logo Emmanuel Jal Emmanuel Jal

Emmanuel Jal


Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Musician, Activist & Former Child Soldier

Emmanuel Jal was born into the life of a child solider on an unknown date in the early 1980s in the war-torn region of Southern Sudan. Through unbelievable struggles, Emmanuel managed to survive and go on to emerge as a recording artist, achieving worldwide acclaim for his unique style of hip hop with its message of peace and reconciliation born out of his personal experiences.

Keynote Speeches

War Child a Story of Survival

Emmanuel offers a greater philosophical message about war and peace. He translates his traumatic past as a child soldier into a positive experience that reflects the strength of human character. His lecture focuses on the power of human generosity, the need for political support in Sudan and what each of us can do to make a difference. Music is central to his message and at each appearance as Jal raps for freedom and sings for absolution.


We Want Peace

We Want Peace reaches out to young people across the globe through its educational tours where Emmanuel shares his experience as a child soldier for the purposes of social-emotional learning and peace education, while still coordinating awareness campaigns on various issues. We Want Peace provides a full education pack which maximizes on the learning opportunities around Emmanuel’s story which enable students and young people to understand more fully the complex uses around child soldiers, forced migration, war and how to engage in a more peaceful life, starting with education.


The Journey of a Refugee

Emmanuel shares the story of his remarkable journey from Sudan to Canada. At 11 years old he met a British aid worker who insisted he should not be a soldier. She adopted him and smuggled him to Kenya. After her death he was forced to live in a refugee camp where he focused on music. His songs soon received international acclaim. Now living in Canada, Emmanuel is a model refugee, citizen and someone who gives back to his community. In this presentation he shares his experiences and perspective as a refugee.

Social Entrepreneurship

Social Entrepreneurship

Platform Plus Presentations

Unique formats and ways to connect with audiences.
Spoken Word
Having left his war-torn country of South Sudan behind, Emmanuel has become a successful musician and activist campaigning for peace and education. Watch as he delivers a powerful spoken word performance.
Celebrity Partnerships

Audience reviews:

  • Emmanuel Jal inspire his audience towards seriously contemplating the changes that they could make in the world that we live in today. Providing himself as an example of how exceptionalism and creativity can manifest itself anywhere in anyone, Jal sparked hope in the audience while also being a very entertaining speaker.

    - THIMUN Foundation, Model United Nations Conference
  • The audience thoroughly enjoyed Emmanuel's presentation in every respect. Pretty much everyone said it was the best Remembrance Day event we'd ever had and the parents that attended loved it too. He is a very warm individual and it was a real treat for all of us to meet him. I am so very glad we did this.

    - Mentor College
  • Emmanuel Jal was able to express his deepest feelings and all the challenges that faced him during his tough childhood through music, he inspired and will inspire generations and gave them motivation to make a change in the world and to promote peace.

    - THIMUN Foundation, Model United Nations Conference
  • He inspired me because it showed me that even at your darkest moments good things are to come.

    - Student, Virginia Tech University

Speaker Biography

Emmanuel co-starred with Reese Witherspoon in the Warner Brothers motion picture, The Good Lie which tells the story about the journey of four young Sudanese refugees (based on The Lost Boys of Sudan) who win a lottery for relocation to the United States. The film made its debut to rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival before being released in October 2014. Emmanuel has also appeared as the adult lead in the major motion picture Africa United; a Pathé, UK Film Council and BBC Films presentation in association with Warner Bros, released in October 2010.

Emmanuel is in demand as a speaker and has addressed the UN, US Congress, the Carter Centre and the highest tiers of several governments. He has been involved with the British Council, Clinton Global Initiative, Adolescent Girls Initiative (World Bank in association with the Nike Foundation), Child Soldiers Initiative and the launch of Ericsson’s Refugees Reunited Software.

In July 2009 Emmanuel took part in TEDGlobal, in Oxford UK, as a part of their speaker series with a theme of accountability. He was one of the faces of Amnesty International’s 2010 World Refugee Day Campaign and appeared at Alicia Keys’ Keep a Child Alive Black Ball 2010 in London. In 2011 he took part in the Oxfam Climate Change Campaign, CNN Freedom Project, Amnesty International ‘Toast to Freedom’ single and spoken alongside Kofi Annan and Martti Ahtisaari for CMI in Finland, Matt Dillon for Refugees International in Washington DC and Angelina Jolie at the ICC for Cinema for Peace.

In 2012 Emmanuel was made a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum continues to speak at high level conferences for Rotary International, the G20 summit, One Young World and has most recently been invited to speak at Richard Branson’s Virgin Unite conference on Necker Island. Emmanuel has continued to support and work alongside Amnesty International as one of their main spokespeople.

In 2008 a full-length documentary on his life was released. The film, Warchild, won 12 prestigious film festival awards worldwide. In the same year, his autobiography, also called Warchild was published by Little Brown. Emmanuel has released numerous studio albums: “The Key,” “Gua,” “Ceasefire,” “Warchild” and “See Me Mama.” His live appearances have included Live 8, Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday Concert and the One Concert for his Holiness the Dalai Lama. He has collaborated and performed alongside artists such as Peter Gabriel, Nelly Furtado, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Joss Stone, Nile Rodgers and Alicia Keys.

Alongside cofounder Paul Lindley, Emmanuel created ‘The Key is E’- a social business and charity channelling the power of education, entrepreneurialism and creativity – to impact social change. The project identifies and invests in inspiring projects across the African continent. The Key is E is also committed to engaging young people and the African Diaspora in a shared vision that shows together, we are a compelling agent for positive change. This journey is led through a multi-tiered educational approach which harnesses the power of creativity and music, engages schools and ignites dreams.

Emmanuel founded Gua Africa in 2006 in order to promote education in Africa through academic sponsorships to refugees who have survived war and genocide, construction of classrooms and the provision of resources such as books, pencils and teacher’s salaries that ensure schools remain open during times of emergency. Projects are based in both South Sudan and Kenya with a focus on providing education to children and young adults who would otherwise be denied this opportunity.

In December 2010, Jal released “We Want Peace,” as part of the wider campaign of the same name calling for peace, protection and justice for all in Sudan ahead of the January 2011 referendum. It also called for an end to all conflicts affecting innocent people around the world. The campaign was supported by A-list artist and leading figures from diverse fields, including Peter Gabriel, Alicia Keys, George Clooney, Richard Branson, President Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan and many more.