The arrival of Emmanuel Jal

September 2018

Local author Donna White has achieved something in her career that few authors can claim, that of finishing work on a trilogy of novels. The Stones Trilogy is a project that has consumed many years of her life and to commemorate this milestone, she has invited actor/singer Emmanuel Jal, to join her this November for two days of celebration, culminating in Hope for All Kids, an exclusive dinner/auction at the Valhalla Inn and Conference Centre.

“I’m very excited,” says White, whose own story has been chronicled over the last two years in Bayview Magazine. “Emmanuel is an amazing man and his life is so compelling. I met him years ago when I was researching my first novel, so I’m glad I can bring him to Thunder Bay to honour the completion of the last.”

Jal is a former child soldier from Sudan who found freedom and self-expression through hip-hop music, and his first single became a hit in Kenya. Subsequent albums began to climb the international charts with their powerful lyrics and unique blend of English, Swahili and Arabic styles. But his music never strayed too far from his painful past, and he began to speak on the topic whenever he was presented with the opportunity. He proved to be a powerful speaker, and soon, he was a key player on the global stage. TED Talks and speaking tours followed, and in 2006, he founded the charity, Gua Africa, to encourage education of Africa’s youth.

He continued his musical career with multiple albums and international collaborations but his presence in front of an audience was undeniable. In 2008, he starred in the documentary, War Child, which was followed by his autobiography of the same name. He followed up with Africa United in 2010 and costarring in the The Good Lie in 2014, a movie produced by Academy Award winning director Ron Howard and starring Academy Award winning actress Reese Witherspoon. Whether Jal is rapping, acting, writing or speaking, his artistry emphasizes freedom, understanding and the plight of child soldiers. This is the very theme of Donna White’s trilogy, and why she was so excited to bring him to Thunder Bay

“It’s dovetailed so nicely,” says White. “My books are in our local schools and this November, Emmanuel Jal will be too! He’ll also be addressing the students at Lakehead University, but the rest of Thunder Bay can join us at the Valhalla! There, they can meet him, buy his book or one of his CDs. Also, since it’s an evening supported by the Thunder Bay branch of World Vision, anyone who sponsors a child from a war torn area will get a free gift from him.”

The Hope for All Kids evening will feature a fine dinner and a keynote speech from Emmanuel himself, as well as both live and silent auctions.

“There will be lots of global items up for auction,” says White. “With many one of a kind pieces from Ghana, Bangladesh, Uganda, Malawi, etc. There will also be a travel package which will include an African Safari donated by Great Lakes Safaris in Uganda!” While I know she’s focused on Emmanuel’s time here in Thunder Bay, I had to ask Donna how she feels about wrapping up a series of novels that have occupied her heart and mind for so long.

“It was kind of sad writing ‘The End’ in the last book,” she says. “It’s supposed to be happy, and it’s definitely a sense of relief, but you’re saying goodbye to all these characters that you love. They become very real to you. Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Bruce, Scott, Sam, Eseza and Charlie walk into my room one day. In fact, I wish they would…”
It’s quite an undertaking to start a novel, but to make that novel a part of a trilogy is a daunting venture. I asked what she had planned for her next project.

“I do want to go back to Uganda,” she says. “I want to interview Angela, a woman who was abducted when she was 15. The Stones Trilogy is a YA (young adult) series so I’d like to look at a more adult novel. Hers is a hard story, so I’ll have to spend a couple of months in Uganda.” Immediately, she smiles. “That would be lovely!” As will the Hope for All Kids Dinner, November 1, with Emmanuel Jal.

For more information about Emmanuel Jal and Hope For All Kids, or to purchase tickets, go to

For more information about the Stones Trilogy, go to Books are available at Chapters Indigo, Coles Intercity and the Bookshelf.

Heather L. Dickson is a photoshop guru, zoologist and author of 6 novels.

Visit her website at

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