South Sudan: Singer Jal Highlights South Sudan Investment Opportunities

Photo: Facebook
Emmanuel Jal

Juba — Internationally renowned South Sudanese singer, Emmanuel Jal on Friday put aside his recent troubles with the security forces and put on a remarkable performance at the climax of celebrations to mark the International Peace Day in Juba on Saturday.

Jal's "We Want Peace" concert in the South Sudan capital, was hoping to usher in a new chapter of peace in the country's post-conflict era; bringing together business with humanitarian actors, government, the private sector and the diplomatic community as key actors in nation building.

On 8 September Jal was randomly robbed of his phone and beaten unconscious by South Sudanese police, an act he described as "sad" and "ironic" considering the work he has done to promote peace and human rights in young nation.

Jal told Sudan Tribune after the attack that he was undeterred by the incident and will continue with his advocacy work to ensure his message of peace "freedom, equality and justice" is heard in South Sudan.

"I am swollen, but recovering, and thank all the fans and supporters for their well wishes," he said in a statement, issued through his media relations manager, Rozan Ahmed.

The We Want Peace movement, which began in 2010, mainly advocates for protection and justice focusing on, but not exclusive to, newly independent South Sudan, and Sudan.

The campaign is backed by notable political figures such as former US President Jimmy Carter and the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, as well as celebrities such as singer, Alicia Keys and actor George Clooney, who has played a prominent role in US-based advocacy regarding war in Darfur and more recently South Sudan's independence and the ongoing conflict in Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile regions of Sudan.

South Sudan Vice President, Riek Machar, while speaking at a high profile WWP business gala, said Jal's campaign is a beacon of peace South Sudan, a country which has suffered decades of civil war.

"I appreciate all those who have supported Emmanuel Jal and his We Want Peace team. This shows me that as a business in South Sudan, you care. You care about our country, and its peaceful development," said Machar, during the gala organized a day before the concert.

South Sudan, the Vice President said, is Africa's next destination for investment, while lauding the famous South Sudanese singer's efforts in ensuring the people invest responsibly, describing it as a "noble" one.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan's information minister equally commended Jal's efforts in highlighting existing obstacles and celebrating the necessity in sustaining peace in the new nation.

Jal, who performed alongside legendary hip hop singer, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, also signaled the need for peace, which he said enhances the atmosphere for real investment and sustainable development.

"Peace equals justice, equality and freedom for all, this includes corporate social responsibility, which all businesses in South Sudan have a role in fulfilling...they too play a crucial part in the country's stability," he said.

In October 2011, Jal received the Common Ground Award in Washington DC, previously awarded to the likes of Desmond Tutu and Mohammad Ali, for his dedication to peace building.

In April this year, he was nominated as a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum, and in June, performed at the G20 summit in Mexico.

The hip-hop star, however, condemned the rampant "abuse" of power in South Sudan saying it should not be tolerated at any level. The practice of tribalism, police brutality, corruption and other problems of de-stabilization, he said, must be highlighted and stopped, if the young nation is to make any progress.

Lam Tugwar, the chairperson for South Sudan Artist Association (SSAA) on Tuesday said he was equally disappointed on learning about the abuse Jal suffered earlier this month at hands of law enforcement officers.

"Personally, I could not believe that such things involving Police brutality are still happening in South Sudan and we strongly condemn such acts," Lam told Sudan Tribune by phone.

However said Lam said that the issue should have been raise at local level instead of using social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to spread word of the incident, which he said portrayed the new nation in bad light.

"We are a young nation and as you know things are just improving," he said.

Jal was en route to the Gatwich guesthouse in the outskirts of Juba when he was stopped by police and robbed of his mobile phone, while a group of approximately 15 police and national security officers looked on, according to reports.

Despite being saddened by the incident, Jal remains upbeat about his home-country adding in a statement after the incident: "I am releasing this statement because I was raised in an environment where speaking out against injustice is always considered a route for peace. Let us continue to put a spotlight on such dark issues, for it is the best solution in paving a way for our bright future".

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