On Tuesday 11 June, Habs was delighted to welcome UN Ambassador and former child soldier Emmanuel Jal. Emmanuel, who performed at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert and at a concert for the Dalai Lama, and has collaborated with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Nelly Furtado, provided incredibly powerful performances and a thought-provoking talk to pupils and staff.
The event began with Oliver from the Lower Sixth performing his own song, No More, before Emmanuel took the stage, entering the Bourne Hall singing We Want Peace. Emmanuel started speaking of his traumatic past as a child soldier in Southern Sudan, which was certainly an eye-opener for everyone who attended. His account was deeply moving, with the audience captivated by each and every word.
After performing some poignant poetry, Emmanuel explained how he found his purpose in music and the importance of selflessness in our own lives. He spoke about his hopes for world peace, the role we can play in making the future better for all and that we can only experience true joy by giving time to others.
The event concluded with a sing-along to another of Emmanuel’s songs, More Power, where the audience was treated to some fantastic dancing.
The visit from a former child soldier ties in with the School’s charity, Third Hope. Third Hope is building a village in Northern Uganda where ex-child soldiers can find a place to learn, train, heal and rediscover hope: hope for their future and hope for the restoration of their communities. Mrs Pollock, English teacher and Director of Admissions and Marketing at Habs, is currently out in Uganda volunteering at the charity for the next month.
Emmanuel’s visit helped highlight why it is so important that the School continues to support Third Hope. The candid account of Emmanuel’s experiences allowed those who attended the opportunity to understand the frame of mind of the children being rehabilitated in many of the centres that Third Hope helps to run and maintain. These centres are not just places of rehabilitation for child soldiers, but also homes where they can begin to learn to live again.
The School would like to thank Emmanuel for coming to Habs to speak, sing and dance – his energetic performances will be fondly remembered by all! Thanks must also go to his agent, Tanya, to Mrs Pollock and to the Habs Charity Committee for helping to organise the event. Habs hopes to welcome Emmanuel back in the future to continue spreading such an important message.
Click the play button on the video below to see one of Emmanuel Jal's performances...