War Child: A Child Soldier's Story

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9780312602970: War Child: A Child Soldier's Story

In the mid-1980s, Emmanuel Jal was a seven year old Sudanese boy, living in a small village with his parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. But as Sudan's civil war moved closer―with the Islamic government seizing tribal lands for water, oil, and other resources―Jal's family moved again and again, seeking peace. Then, on one terrible day, Jal was separated from his mother, and later learned she had been killed; his father Simon rose to become a powerful commander in the Christian Sudanese Liberation Army, fighting for the freedom of Sudan. Soon, Jal was conscripted into that army, one of 10,000 child soldiers, and fought through two separate civil wars over nearly a decade.
But, remarkably, Jal survived, and his life began to change when he was adopted by a British aid worker. He began the journey that would lead him to change his name and to music: recording and releasing his own album, which produced the number one hip-hop single in Kenya, and from there went on to perform with Moby, Bono, Peter Gabriel, and other international music stars.
Shocking, inspiring, and finally hopeful, War Child is a memoir by a unique young man, who is determined to tell his story and in so doing bring peace to his homeland.

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About the Author:

EMMANUEL JAL lives in London. His music has been featured in the movie Blood Diamond, the documentary God Grew Tired of Us, and in three episodes of ER. He is a spokesman for Amnesty International and Oxfam, and has done work for Save the Children, UNICEF, World Food Programme, Christian Aid, and other charities, and has established his own charitable foundation, Gua Africa, to help former Sudanese child soldiers. He has been featured in Time Magazine, USA Today, the Washington Post, Newsweek.com, and on NPR, CNN, Fox, MTV, and the BBC. A documentary about Jal's life, also called War Child, premiered to acclaim at the February 2008 Berlin Film Festival and the April 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. His first U.S. album War Child was released in May 2008.
Jal also plays one of the "lost boys" of Sudan in The Good Lie, released in October 2014 starring Reese Witherspoon.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

THE VILLAGERS’ VOICES rose louder and louder as they sang. Drums
thudded to greet us: the family of Simon Jok, the SPLA commander
who protected this village and the ones around it. Everyone
seemed so happy and I was too as I stood next to Babba—taller than I remembered,
with a bigger belly now. He’d been treated like a king after arriving
earlier in the day, and he had shown us to the tukul we’d been given
as a home. We even had cows now, just as Mamma had said we would.
They were black- and- white with big, curled horns. An elder, naked except
for beads around his waist and a necklace of ostrich eggs around his neck,
stood in front of my family. Next to him was a riek—the altar found in
every home to make sacrifices to gods. Like many in the south, these villagers
were animists who believed in many gods and made sure a cow’s blood
touched the riek whenever one was slaughtered to please them. The singing
got louder as an old woman tried to sprinkle water on us.
 “Please no, we are Christian,” Mamma said.
“Jeeeeesus,” the woman crooned as she carried on sprinkling water.
A bull tied with a leather rope stood in front of the riek. Its eyes rolled
as the old man took a spear and stood in front of it. It knew what was
going to happen as well as I did and moved restlessly. The elder lifted his
spear and in one fast move sliced into the bull’s heart. I watched as it fell
on its left side and blood spread slowly across the earth. It was a blessing.
Later the elder would cut off the bull’s head and skin before handing me
one of the testicles. It was burned on the fire and I had to eat it, but while
the village boys loved the taste, I did not.
“Come, Jal,” my father said after we had finished.
We left Mamma, my sisters, and my brothers behind as we started walking
through the village with some soldiers. They were big and strong too,
but I knew my father was the most important one. He had just come from
Ethiopia, where he’d learned to be a lieutenant commander.
“I am happy you are here where I can visit you,” Babba said as we
walked.
So was I. It had taken so long to escape Bantiu. We’d had to turn back
that day on death route because a village was burning in the distance, and
after that it was always the same until Mamma made a new plan. The only
people the troops sometimes allowed to move in and out of the town were
villagers from outside Bantiu who came in to sell milk to the soldiers. It
was dangerous but Mamma told us we were going to pretend to be with
them. I thought of the naked children and women who wore just a skin
around their middle. I didn’t want to be bare. But of course I had no choice,
and soon Mamma, Aunt Nyagai, Nyakouth, Nyaruach, Miri, Marna, and I
had melted into a group.
My brothers, sisters, and I hated being without clothes and shoes, and
Mamma looked strange too. The sun was so hot as we walked that the earth
burned us and we had to take turns standing on her feet. The moment our
turn came to an end, we’d step back onto the ground, and thorns would dig
into our soft skin as the village children laughed. I turned my back on them.
All I cared was that I was leaving Bantiu—and the war—behind.
I looked up now at Babba as he spoke to me.
 “This is our land,” he said as he swung his arm in the air around him.
“This is what we are fighting to protect because this is what the Arabs are
trying to take from us.
“They want to change us, our way of life, and make us like them. But I
will never let them do that.”
Bending down, Babba put his arms around mine and lifted me into the
air. Higher and higher I went until I could finally twist my legs around his
shoulders. I felt his hands holding firmly on to my legs as he stopped to
speak to a man.
“This is my son,” Babba said as I sat silently looking down.
I knew he would never let me fall.
Babba left soon after to go back to the war, and I cried when he told me
he was going. He saw my tears and told me I was a man, a soldier, a warrior
now.
The village was as beautiful as I’d been told so long ago it would be.
Tukuls lay in long lines near ours, and there were also bigger luaks, where
the men slept with cows after the fire- red sun had sunk into the night. The
villagers also had many sheep and goats, and the thing I liked most was
that I could walk wherever I liked because it was safe.
Soon I had learned not to wear clothes as I made friends with some of
the village children who I entertained with stories of the city. I liked making
them laugh as I told them about the black- and- white tele vi sion we’d
had—they didn’t understand that a box could show moving pictures. But
there were also many things for me to learn. Village life in Sudan is traditional,
and girls and boys have different jobs to do. While Nyakouth was
taught how to help in the kitchen and milk the cows, I learned how to dry
dung, which was then burned on fires to chase mosquitoes away. Nyaruach
tried to help us, but she mostly made more trouble than she solved.
Her name meant “talkative,” and she loved the sound of her voice even
more than I did my own. Somehow Mamma always found out whenever I
did anything wrong, and I was sure it was because of Nyaruach and her
big mouth. I was glad that Nyakouth was quieter.
Miri and Marna were still too young to work, and we, the older children,
helped look after them. Of course, there was still time to play, and
the game I liked most was with a baby sheep I had made friends with.
Staring at it seriously, I would drop to my knees and throw myself forward
as it butted its head against mine.
“You will break your bones one day,” Nyakouth used to scold me when
she heard the crack of our heads colliding.
I didn’t listen because the sheep made me laugh too much to stop.
Mamma was also busy. As well as feeding Miri and Marna her milk,
she looked after the many people who arrived to see her. Injured soldiers
came who needed their wounds dressed with old pieces of bedsheets, and
Mamma also had some needles, which she boiled again and again, to look
after them. Villagers also arrived at our tukul—some wanting the fruit of
the neem tree, which Mamma boiled to treat malaria, while others asked
for the salt- and- sugar drink she made for those weak with diarrhea.
Although the war was far from us now, we still had to learn to follow
rules. Soon after we arrived, Mamma was beaten with a stick by angry
SPLA soldiers. Villagers were supposed to leave out food and milk to feed
the rebels, and she hadn’t known. What they didn’t realize was that when
government soldiers came to watch the bush with binoculars, the villagers
also gave them milk. But Mamma quickly learned what she had to do, and
Babba sent us a soldier called Gatluak to look after us so we were safe
again.
I loved life in the village. Watching the ostriches and buffalo in the
bush, learning to use the ashes of cow dung and sticks to brush my teeth,
and dyeing my hair red using the bark of the luor tree. I also liked having
Gatluak with us because he played with me often. But most of all I was
glad to have left the war behind.
On a clear morning, we were all outside. Nyakouth was milking a cow and
I was bringing the others outside so I could sweep up the dung in the luak.
But really I just wanted to keep laughing at what I’d seen earlier. There is
an animal in Sudan called a jeer, which is about the size of a large cat.
Earlier one had come out of the bush and fallen asleep in the grass near
our house—or so we’d thought. The jeer lay still as the minutes passed and
flies collected on its huge bottom. But a passing chicken could not resist
such good pickings and pecked along the trail of flies until it reached the
jeer’s backside. As its beak pecked, the jeer woke up, sucked the chicken’s
head inside, and ran away. Nyakouth and I had laughed and laughed as we
watched. Now I giggled to myself again as I led a cow out of the luak into
the daylight. I hoped that we would see another jeer soon.
I froze as I saw an Arab standing in front of me. He was wearing a long,
black jellabiya and holding a gun. Everyone had stopped moving. The
morning was silent. The Arab said nothing as he walked toward the tukul
and came out with Gatluak.
“Put your hands up,” the Arab shouted as he pressed his gun into
Gatluak’s back. “Turn around, move over there.”
Gatluak stepped forward and lowered his hands as he turned around to
face the Arab. The two men stared at each other for a second before the
sharp crack of bullets sliced open the silence. Gatluak dropped onto the
ground and the Arab started running away. My eyes did not follow him.
All I could do was stare at Gatluak as he lay on the ground. I knew the
sound of a gun well and how people looked after they’d been shot, but
had never seen the moment when bullet met flesh.
I couldn’t breathe. Gatluak’s stomach had been ripped apart and his intestines
spilled out of the wound. The smell of shit filled the air. Steam
rose from his body as he lay on the ground, body jerking and eyes empty.
I watched as Mamma sank to her knees beside him. Tears ran down her
face as her hands closed around Gatluak’s stomach. They were bright with
blood as she tried to hold the skin together.
“Get some rags,” she shouted.
I couldn’t move, couldn’t take my eyes away from the sight of
Gatluak’s guts—gray like a goat’s—mixing with a sea of red. I watched as
he twisted in the dirt, his breath coming in gasps as he choked for air.

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Book Description St Martin s Press, United States, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. In the mid-1980s, Emmanuel Jal was a seven year old Sudanese boy, living in a small village with his parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. But as Sudan s civil war moved closer--with the Islamic government seizing tribal lands for water, oil, and other resources--Jal s family moved again and again, seeking peace. Then, on one terrible day, Jal was separated from his mother, and later learned she had been killed; his father Simon rose to become a powerful commander in the Christian Sudanese Liberation Army, fighting for the freedom of Sudan. Soon, Jal was conscripted into that army, one of 10,000 child soldiers, and fought through two separate civil wars over nearly a decade. But, remarkably, Jal survived, and his life began to change when he was adopted by a British aid worker. He began the journey that would lead him to change his name and to music: recording and releasing his own album, which produced the number one hip-hop single in Kenya, and from there went on to perform with Moby, Bono, Peter Gabriel, and other international music stars. Shocking, inspiring, and finally hopeful, War Child is a memoir by a unique young man, who is determined to tell his story and in so doing bring peace to his homeland. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780312602970

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Book Description St Martin s Press, United States, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. In the mid-1980s, Emmanuel Jal was a seven year old Sudanese boy, living in a small village with his parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. But as Sudan s civil war moved closer--with the Islamic government seizing tribal lands for water, oil, and other resources--Jal s family moved again and again, seeking peace. Then, on one terrible day, Jal was separated from his mother, and later learned she had been killed; his father Simon rose to become a powerful commander in the Christian Sudanese Liberation Army, fighting for the freedom of Sudan. Soon, Jal was conscripted into that army, one of 10,000 child soldiers, and fought through two separate civil wars over nearly a decade. But, remarkably, Jal survived, and his life began to change when he was adopted by a British aid worker. He began the journey that would lead him to change his name and to music: recording and releasing his own album, which produced the number one hip-hop single in Kenya, and from there went on to perform with Moby, Bono, Peter Gabriel, and other international music stars. Shocking, inspiring, and finally hopeful, War Child is a memoir by a unique young man, who is determined to tell his story and in so doing bring peace to his homeland. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780312602970

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Book Description St Martin s Press, United States, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In the mid-1980s, Emmanuel Jal was a seven year old Sudanese boy, living in a small village with his parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. But as Sudan s civil war moved closer--with the Islamic government seizing tribal lands for water, oil, and other resources--Jal s family moved again and again, seeking peace. Then, on one terrible day, Jal was separated from his mother, and later learned she had been killed; his father Simon rose to become a powerful commander in the Christian Sudanese Liberation Army, fighting for the freedom of Sudan. Soon, Jal was conscripted into that army, one of 10,000 child soldiers, and fought through two separate civil wars over nearly a decade. But, remarkably, Jal survived, and his life began to change when he was adopted by a British aid worker. He began the journey that would lead him to change his name and to music: recording and releasing his own album, which produced the number one hip-hop single in Kenya, and from there went on to perform with Moby, Bono, Peter Gabriel, and other international music stars. Shocking, inspiring, and finally hopeful, War Child is a memoir by a unique young man, who is determined to tell his story and in so doing bring peace to his homeland. Bookseller Inventory # BZE9780312602970

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