Can a Music Video Prevent Genocide?

Emmanuel JalCan a music video prevent genocide?

One Sudanese rapper thinks so.

Emmanual Jal, here a Sudanese child soldier turned hip hop artist and activist, abortion is pushing a music video espousing the benefits of peace in Sudan. Alicia Keys, more about George Clooney, Richard Branson, Peter Gabriel, Kofi Annan and Jimmy Carter have all joined in to help. But how, exactly, does a celebrity-filled music video on YouTube do anything to help ensure peace in Sudan? We’ll get to that in a minute, but first a bit of background:

Sudan’s Civil War was one of the longest wars of the twentieth century. Some two million people were killed, and another four million displaced. All that ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. Part of the agreement was to allow the south to hold a referendum on independence, coming up in less than a month on January 9.

But the northern-dominated Muslim-led government of President Omar Al Bashir has one heckofa lot to lose with independence for the Christian and animist south, home to 80% of Sudan’s oil fields. Numerous governments and heads of international institutions have expressed fear that the government will either not allow the vote to go forward unimpeded, or will launch another civil war should the south vote for succession.


That’s where Emmanual Jal, a former child soldier with rebels in southern Sudan, sees himself coming in. Change.org caught up with the Sudanese rapper earlier today. Here’s what he had to say about activism around the independence referendum, and why awareness of it is key to preventing violence and promoting peace.

Change.org: What do you think is the likelihood that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) will succeed?

Emmanual Jal: The CPA is a good deal and gives the southerners a choice, whether to be united with a government that once oppressed them and is still looking down upon them, or to create a new state. But whether we vote for unity or suppression, peace is what we need in our country.

Change.org: How is a music video going to make peace?

Emmanual Jal: You might see this just as a video or song. But revolutions do not happen without music, and the only way that governments all over the world will find the issue of Sudan very important is if the public are aware. That’s the idea behind this video.

If no one knows about the referendum, there will be a genocide in the south. We know that this is a government which has committed genocide and which is preparing for war, and arming militias. If people are not careful, the country is going to go to war.

Change.org: What makes you so convinced that awareness alone can bring peace?

Emmanual Jal: Anywhere in the world, when evil is committed, if it’s brought to light it will be brought to shame and the perpetrators’ power to continue will be reduced.

Look at what the public did for Darfur. People came together to highlight the situation in Darfur. All over the world, everyone was involved and it helped.

Change.org: Beyond forwarding the video around, what can people do?

Emmanual Jal: Tell your nearest government that you’re concerned about Sudan. International pressure will mean that the UN and the AU can put pressure on both sides to help prevent the country from going back to war. There are lots of other actions on the We Want Peace website.

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