John Frog: From child soldier to South Sudan Afrobeat star

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John Frog: From child soldier to South Sudan Afrobeat star
John Frog was born John Aguek, which means frog in Dinka because he came out feet first

BBC | John Frog is one of South Sudan’s most successful musicians.

He’s forging an international reputation and has collaborated with artists from other African countries, including Uganda’s Eddie Kenzo, and Bahati from Kenya.

His latest song My Bed features Iyanya from Nigeria.

Frog is his real name. He was called Aguek, which means frog in Dinka, a language native to South Sudan, because he was a breech baby, coming into the world feet-first.

Given that his mother gave birth to him in a remote village with no hospital or doctor in sight, he was lucky to survive, as was his mother.

John Frog was born during the civil war and his parents were soldiers in the SPLA – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. He himself was a child soldier, joining the army at around eight years old.

“They didn’t give us a gun yet, until I was 14 - that’s when I was given a gun," he tells me.

“Every day, every week, there is a fight, so we have to run in the forest, in the water, so it was quite tough for me.”

He shares that he didn't go to school and picked up English "from the street".

Frog says he always loved music and even in the forest he would listen to traditional music.

It was when he got the opportunity to go to South Sudan's capital, Juba and he met other young Africans that he started making music himself.

“We didn’t have enough producers in Juba. The producers who are here are from Kenya and Uganda, so it was a bit hard to know the kind of genre for South Sudanese music, so I decided to do Afrobeats," he says.

Frog says the musicians who make the most money in South Sudan are the traditional ones.

“They praise people, they praise leaders, praise people who have money, so it’s the quickest way to make money here."

"But my aim is to reach the wider audience. Either this year or next year, I have to be among our brothers who are on top.”

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