Emmanuel Jal’s trip to the Jambo Jipya School in Mtwapa, Kenya


On August 5 the students of the Jambo Jipya school had the privilege of hearing guest speaker Emmanuel Jal. Jal’s unique style of hip hop with its message of peace and reconciliation that was born out of his experiences as a child soldier in the Sudan has won worldwide acclaim. Emmanuel is a powerful advocate for peace and positive change. His “We Want Peace” and “Lose to Win” campaigns resonate with young people and inspire them to make a difference. Through his story, students learn about political and social issues, global citizenship and their responsibility to take a stand about world events. The focus of Jal’s presentation to the Jambo Jipya students was education. He spoke to them about his own struggles in school and how at one point he got UN grades. He thought he was unclassified because he was so smart but the opposite was true. He performed so poorly that he was given no grade. From that moment he programmed himself to make positive change, pushing himself to take advantage of opportunities and to learn from others. He encouraged the students to do their best no matter what their circumstances and to get rid of any negative baggage they have. Jal stressed that there will always be obstacles put in your way – it is up to you whether you let them stop you from reaching your goals. This was the pledge he had all the students recite at the end of his presentation.


“I will work hard in school

I will set goals and dreams

I won’t let obstacles get in my way

Even when things are difficult I will strive to do more

I am proud of my school, my town, and my country

It is up to me to make the world a better place!”


So how did Emmanuel Jal come to visit the JJ school?  Executive Director of Reason2Smile, Donna Rosenblum, a school librarian in New York has had Jal as a guest speaker and performer at her school in 2011 and 2015. Motivated by his story and his accomplishments, Donna discussed the possibility of a trip to Kenya to inspire the students at Jambo Jipya. Finally this possibly became a reality during the summer of 2016 when Jal was planning to do some recording in Nairobi, Kenya at the end of July and then fly to Uganda for a program in August. A side trip to Mtwapa fit perfectly and the planning began. The culminating event was held on August 6th at the Greenwood Resort in Mtwapa. This family fun event was sponsored by local community organizations whose focus was to showcase local talent. The day was filled with events such as freestyle rap, modern dance, traditional dance, modeling and ended with an encore performance by Emmanuel Jal. The experience was amazing, motivating, inspiring, captivating and of course fun!

In closing here is a recent quote of Emmanuel Jal’s – The mind is the greatest battlefield that every person needs to have. When we face countless defeats but still believe there is victory and hope; then you have not lost but are on the path of success. The power of positive thinking is unlimited.”