Credo: Emmanuel Jal

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The Independent Culture

I believe...

A lot of child soldiers lose their minds. Some commit suicide, some don't know what to do. If you have no help, no therapy or nobody advising you, you lose your head. Music has been like a painkiller for me.

I'm here because [British foreign-aid worker] Emma McCune rescued me. If I hadn't been rescued, I probably would have died from starvation or disease, or maybe I would have been killed in the war.

It's depressing to talk about my past, but I have no choice as I'm the voice for my country and the voice for many children, and my country is still at war. If I don't manage to bring peace, at least I'll be able to help somebody to invest in a child.

Not feeling guilty is something you have to work on – you have to convince your mind that it's not your fault. Now I'm sleeping in a five-star hotel, I'm eating nice food, but I know somewhere people are starving.

Education is the only solution for peace. I'm eating only one meal a day until I raise the money to build a school in south Sudan. I've managed to do a tour on that one meal a day. It's really hard, but I'm making it.

Hip-hop lost the meaning of how it began. It was meant for the community, but people need entertainment, and sex and violence sell. We want to watch somebody else suffering. We need to balance these things, because kids practise what they see.

I'm kind of weird – I don't get excited. Sometimes I fake that I'm excited just to make people happy.

Many people have been asking me to write my story in a book, but I was more comfortable to tell it in my music. But I thought, I'll do the book and maybe nobody will bother me with questions.

My book was really difficult to do. When I started I had a nosebleed every morning. Then I had some heavy nightmares. But after it was finished, I felt so light.

Emmanuel Jal's memoir 'War Child: A Boy Soldier's Story' is published by Hachette Digital at £12.99. For more about Jal's charity, visit www.gua-africa.org

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