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Ex-Child Soldier, Hip-Hop Artist, and Motivational Speaker Emmanuel Jal at the Cultural Arts Center, March 8

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Ex-Child Soldier, Hip-Hop Artist, and Motivational Speaker Emmanuel Jal at the Cultural Arts Center, March 8

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Category: Community Engagement

Published: 2019-03-04 00:00:01.000

Ex-child soldier, Hip-Hop artist, and motivational speaker, Emmanuel Jal, to perform at the Cultural Arts Center (7995 Georgia Ave. Silver Spring) on March 8 at 7 p.m. RSVP at or via Eventbrite "Emmanuel Jal Performance".

As an ex-child soldier in the war-torn region of South Sudan in the early 1980s, Emmanuel Jal has come through huge personal struggles to become a successful and acclaimed hip - hop artist and motivational speaker.

Emmanuel Jal always knew that his remarkable tale of survival would someday serve a larger purpose. He just didn't know what it was. Now, after six albums, a TED talk, an award-winning biography and a starring role opposite Reese Witherspoon in The Good Lie, Jal, 39, appreciates the power of his story: a South Sudanese orphan forced to fight in a war he didn't understand who would go on to overcome the trauma, learn to forgive and emerge stronger.

Now living in Canada, Jal is taking that reconciliation message global, teaching through his music and his advocacy that peace is something that starts from within. "A traumatized person acts on instinct; he can't plan for the future," he says. "But when you eradicate the bitterness and find your purpose, you can manifest big things in life."

To encourage others to find forgiveness and move toward inner--and outer--peace, Jal has supplemented his musical messaging with a series of workshops on self-awareness, meditation and inner strength. To expand that reach worldwide, he's building an app that uses an African-inflected approach to meditation while promoting positive habits.

Recognizing that education is one of the building blocks of self-awareness, Jal is also returning to his roots in South Sudan. He wants to rebuild the school he helped establish in the town of Leer in 2010, before it was destroyed by another outbreak of war four years later. It's pointless to start construction before there is peace, he says, but his music--popular across the country--is laying the groundwork.

"The fact that those kids see me doing my things, it inspires them. They say, 'This guy is one of us, and see where he is now,'" he says. "I am just here to keep hope alive that tomorrow will get better."

To learn more about Emmanuel Jal, visit

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