Former Child Soldier wins Havel Prize

Emmanuel Jal is a former child soldier who advocates for freedom through hip hop

Emmanuel Jal is a South Sudanese hip hop artist and a former child soldier of Sudan's brutal civil war that took place between 1983 and 2005. With five critically acclaimed albums, an autobiography, and a documentary to his name, Jal is focused on supporting South Sudanese youth with educational scholarships through his “Survivors of War” program. He founded the charity Gua Africa to work with individuals, families, and communities to help them overcome the effects of war and poverty.

Jal starred in the Warner Bros major motion picture “The Good Lie” alongside Reese Witherspoon, and toured and collaborated with Lauryn Hill, Niles Rodgers, and Nelly Furtado. In 2015, he was nominated for “Best World Music Album” at the Juno Awards. Jal owns his own record label, Gatwitch Records, and health food business, Jal Gua, both based in Toronto, Canada.

Through his “We Want Peace” movement, Jal has been awarded the Calgary Peace Prize, the Humanitarian Award from the Hunt Institute, The Dresden Peace Prize, The Mattie Stepanek Peacemaker Prize, The Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Award, and has been honored by Ban Ki Moon at the UN for his peace efforts in South Sudan.

“Emmanuel uses powerful music as a vehicle to spread a message of freedom and hope for a better future in war-torn South Sudan. He inspires people everywhere to stand up for the freedom of others, and in so doing brings people closer together,” said Havel Prize Committee member Garry Kasparov.

The Havel Prize laureates will receive an artist’s representation of the “Goddess of Democracy,” the iconic statue erected by Chinese students during the Tiananmen Square protests of June 1989. Each sculpture embodies the spirit and literal reality of creative dissent at its finest, representing the struggle of truth and beauty against brute power. The laureates will also share a prize of 350,000 Norwegian kroner.

The Havel Prize ceremony will be broadcast live at on Wednesday, May 30