I had the pleasure of meeting Emmanuel Jal when he was touring in Melbourne just last month. We spent a few days together and he is an amazing person with a most horrific story that not many could ever comprehend. Emmanuel was recruited as a child soldier in South Sudan when he was only 7. For such a scarred and traumatized human being he has come through the darkness of his past and has become a ray of sunshine, with success, happiness… and a message of hope, promoting peace worldwide through his music. One night we rapped together at his apartment. He was trying to help me write a rap song for my charity Bikes 4 Life. We had a lot of fun!

Here’s a photo of Emmanuel, Silva, Blair Stafford and myself at a charity event in Melbourne for Miss World Australia. We had a great time in Melbourne and I hope our paths cross again one day! Emmanuel is an inspiration. See more info below….
Below is an article from Unicef from an interview with Emmanuel.

Former child soldier Emmanuel Jal is now a hip hop star with a message of peace

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/2008/Marin
Emmanuel Jal performs during a panel discussion on children affected by conflict at the United Nations headquarters in New York, on 15 July 2008.

By Ticiana Maloney and Elizabeth Njinga

NEW YORK, USA, 25 August 2008 – Over a decade has passed since Sudanese hip hop star Emmanuel Jal was a child soldier. He survived to tell his story and is now an acclaimed international musician with a message of peace.

“Each album of mine always has a theme,” he says. “’War Child‘ is about my story, my experience, what I have seen from the war and what I want to change. I want to make a difference.”

When Emmanuel was seven years old, he was recruited by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. He was one of thousands of children forcibly conscripted by the fighting forces. Many of those children did not survive.

Emmanuel, however, was lucky. When he was 13, he met an aid worker who took him to Kenya, where he was enrolled in school and found his way to a new life. “I was educated,” he recalls. “It happened that I was helped.”

Advocate for peace and reconciliation

For Emmanuel, education was the invitation to expand his identity, not trade it for a new one. “I feel a responsibility. I was once one of them and I know a lot of child soldiers in the same position,” he says.

UNICEF Image
© 2008/Cary Hammond
In his newest album, ‘War Child’, Emmanuel Jal uses hip hop to spread a message of peace and reconciliation.

Emmanuel has a profound understanding of the conditions that led to his becoming a child soldier and he is determined to use his own skills and talent to share his experiences with the world. He uses hip hop to spread a powerful message of peace and reconciliation.

“I survived to tell a story,” he says. “I tell my story through the music. I want to inspire people.”

Worldwide acclaim

Emmanuel’s message has been broadcast on a wide variety of outlets, including CNN and MTV. A documentary about Emmanuel called ‘War Child’ recently won the Cadillac Audience Award at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. His autobiography is due to be published by St. Martin’s press in 2009.

Today, Emmanuel divides his time between London and Nairobi, but he has not forgotten his native Sudan.

While still living full-time in Kenya, he founded the non-profit organization Gua Africa, which is dedicated to educating children affected by war and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Its main aim is to build a school in Leer, Southern Sudan, where Emmanuel is from, and which has the highest number of child soldiers in the area.

The word ‘gua’ means ‘peace’ in Nuer, a language of Sudan.

Kyria Abrahams contributed to this story from New York.


Yesterday after months of war in Libya, Colonel Gaddafi was shot dead and his 4 decade long tyrannical rule was officially over.

And just a few days ago the U.S sent 100 special forces to Uganda to work with the UPDF in the hunt for Joseph Kony. However, Kony isn’t even in Uganda.

Kony is suspected to be hiding somewhere between the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, where he continues his reign of terror.

The US troops will not be engaging in fighting the LRA and are said to be only assisting in intelligence to the Ugandan People’s Defence Force.

There are various opinions regarding President Obama’s latest action involving the arrest of Kony, coming almost one year after he signed the LRA Bill and Northern Ugandan Recovery Act.

Whilst many activists and humanitarians around the world are celebrating this latest initiative to finally put an end to the atrocities committed by the LRA, some are skeptical of the President’s motivations.

One argument put forward has been relating to the controversial issue of resource war, saying that America is only getting involved now to compete with China’s hegemony in the region and more so due to the huge amount of oil that has been found recently in the region of Northern Uganda and Eastern DRC. The geopolitical position of Uganda is advantageous to governments hoping to exploit the land, with the riches of the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, just over the border, and the extreme amount of mineral wealth in neighboring Congo. People against US intervention in the region also question America’s relationship with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who has been responsible for grave crimes against his people and that of neighboring countries. His human rights track record is far from good, yet he has had his back covered by America for years despite this. It is too often said that Museveni himself is responsible for more death and destruction that LRA leader Joseph Kony.

Maybe US intervention or action from Uganda’s or regional governments has come late, but it is nevertheless extremely important to use any means possible to rid East and Central Africa of Joseph Kony and the LRA. And maybe, the US are keeping their enemies closer and not the best friend to Uganda that some people believe… Maybe they are planning to topple him like other African leaders and maybe it’s also a part of a grand strategy to rule every corner of the world, particularly lands with the most mineral wealth and oil. Or maybe that’s not the case at all. You decide.

Mad World from Ebony Butler on Vimeo.

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Angelina Jolie witnessed history in the making on Thursday when she attended a trial at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands.

The “Changeling” actress headed to the hearing in The Hague to observe proceedings as the case against Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, who is accused of recruiting child soldiers, wrapped up.

She tells the Associated Press, “(This is) an extraordinary moment for international justice but more than that for children of the world.”

Jolie, who is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is currently living in Scotland while her partner Brad Pitt films zombie movie “World War Z.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/dailydish/detail?entry_id=96247#ixzz1WFyr6lRu

BioPic’s aboard ‘Soldier’ story – Entertainment News, Film News, Media – Variety.

Will Raee to direct Uma Thurman starrer

BioPic Entertainment has joined forces with Caspian Pictures to co-produce indie drama “Girl Soldier,” with Uma Thurman to star and Will Raee to direct.

The film will depict the true-life plight of 30 Ugandan girls who were abducted by rebel soldiers. Project’s been in development since 2009, when Caspian announced it had attached Thurman to the project (Variety, July 21, 2009).

Story’s based on Kathy Cook’s book “Stolen Angels,” which follows the 1996 raid at a boarding school in which armed rebels abducted young girls to turn them into soldiers and sex slaves. A teacher tracked the rebels back to their camp to demand the girls’ release; 110 were returned to the nun, who then began a crusade over the next few years as she rallied parents, the government, the U.N. and the pope to aid in rescuing not only her girls but other children in rebel captivity.

Producers are aiming to begin shooting in March in South Africa.

BioPic Entertainment, founded by Michael Hennessy, Brian A. Bullock and Robert G. Edner, is focused on TV and film based on iconic personalities and historic events. BioPic also recently announced the development of Wendy Randall’s “Mahjong Wives,” a series set in the 1960s about the five Jewish mob wives who covertly ran Las Vegas through their husbands, as well as “Black Rangers.” Latter is the untold story of the U.S. Army’s only all-black company of elite Airborne Rangers who helped turn the tide of the Korean War.

BioPic is repped by Paradigm.

War on LRA Rebels Loses Momentum Report:  Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Efforts to defeat feared group run into trouble as regional governments fail to address threat.

ACR Issue 300, 17 Aug 11 – By Barrett Holmes Pitner – International JusticeICC

Amid concerns that efforts to flush out Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA,

are flagging, the international community is facing stark challenges to defeat the

rebels as they continue to wreak havoc in the region. Since the United States

announced a long-awaited strategy to defeat the LRA and capture its leaders by

bolstering the military effort in the region, Uganda has instead withdrawn 700

troops that were pursuing the rebels and curtailed  funding for the operation.

Child Troopers director Ebony Butler has taken her human rights documentary project to the United States of America, where she has found a whole new host of supporters and interested parties.

Ebony is currently working from Hollywood Los Angeles with her local crew where she is working on Child Troopers second phase of production. She is also being mentored by some leading industry players. The impressive list of international film and TV professionals she has mustered include Shine Global CEO Mark Fennessy and Australian born, LA based director Rod Hardy. Ebony’s has 5 official mentors who have each signed on as industry specific advisors to the young director for her debut feature documentary film Child Troopers, slated for release in 2012.

As of next week Ebony will leave Los Angeles for New York and Washington DC where she has scheduled in meetings and on camera interviews with some of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations, NGO‘S, political figures and other child soldier and human rights lobby groups. The line up includes: the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, OXFAM and Resolve (formerly known as Resolve Uganda). There are a number of other key players, analysts and experts in the arena of international and African politics, American foreign policy and geopolitics set to meet with Ebony over the next month to discuss her film and offer unique insights into the conflict in Uganda and beyond.

We will be back with more information about the progress Ebony and her crew are making soon.

Excited times ahead so stay tuned and if you like what we are doing please sign up to our blog and share this with friends or on your favorite social networking site!

Please also join us on twitter @atlanticstar233 and on facebook at facebook.com/childtroopers

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Child Troopers is currently in pre-production, with principal photography scheduled to begin next month in the United States of America. Director of Child Troopers, Ebony Butler, will be traveling to Los Angeles next week where she will work with Child Trooper’s U.S Producer, Alec Pedersen (The Cove; Unity). She will then head across to New York and Washington DC to conduct interviews and further research issues related to the film.

Research for the upcoming trip to America will focus on children in conflict & child soldiers, peace & justice, civilian protection & security, aid & development, modern day child slavery & child trafficking.

More information regarding Child Troopers will be released soon so keep checking in for updates!

If there is something you would like to know, or an opinion you would like to voice, please do as we encourage dialogue and promote discussion on all issues!

Please ollow us on Facebook.com/childtrooopers or check out the blog atlanticstarproductions.blogspot.com for information on human trafficking, slavery, human rights, child soldiers and much more!

PEACE, LOVE AND GRATITUDE TO ALL! 

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James Inhofe - LRA Bill of 2010
James Inhofe Amends NDAA Act

 

Does Senator Inhofe’s amendment of the US National Defense Authorization Act, directed towards ending the LRA conflict, have any real power? Is it implying the government use direct military action to reach its goals? What efforts are in place from December;’s comprehensive strategy released by President Obama? The LRA are still operating freely, and this year attacks have increased across east and central Africa. I just hope the US are actually being active in their attempt to resolve the issue and bring Kony and those responsible to justice, otherwise there would be no cause to be pro-active.

Justice won’t be served when and if Kony is caught. That would be just one small step toward justice. And will Joseph Kony‘s elimination from the equation even stop the atrocities from the LRA’s brutal insurgency? In the meantime however, it could be an idea to focus on healing the current victim’s of this war, as there is no uncertainty there – they clearly exist and are still suffering, awaiting help from the outside world. The LRA bill has been successful at harnessing popularity, however, what ever happened to the Northern Ugandan Recovery Act? It’s not as catchy I guess.