JUBA, South Sudan — “Peace.” The word resonated from the walls of the Independence Hall of Juba on Friday during a concert marking International Peace Day, organized by a group founded by South Sudanese former child soldier and internationally acclaimed musician Emmanuel Jal.
The South Sudanese singer shared the stage with his friend and hip hop artist Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, the first American artist to perform in South Sudan. It was DMC’s first time in Africa.
For the unique and joyful event, South Sudanese people and expats got together to celebrate and promote peace in the country. They cheered and danced to the vibes of one of Jal’s newest tracks, “We Want Peace,” and to DMC’s famous songs, among them “Tricky” and “Walk This Way.”
Other local artists also headlined the International Peace Day show in Juba, such as Silver X.
The “We Want Peace” event also included a business gala intended to promote investment in the young country. South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar spoke at the gala and thanked attendees for supporting Jal’s initiative. “This shows me that as a business in South Sudan, you care. You care about our country and its peaceful development," Machar said.
Jal’s homecoming was marked by controversy after he was reportedly beaten unconscious and robbed by South Sudanese police just days after his arrival. Jal called the attack an “ironic and sad situation,” considering that his visit was focused on the “We Want Peace” event. But Jal made clear that he was undeterred by the violence, saying it “only made me want to move faster and harder with this crucial message and celebration in my home nation.”
Camille Lepage is a French freelance photojournalist based in South Sudan. She graduated with a degree in Journalism from a British university in June 2012 and moved to Juba in July 2012.