from the poem,
“The Wandering Moon”
El Nai is a name I inherited from my late dad, Elnai Dorube Donyadi meaning “close to or close with God.”
Right from my childhood I had always loved music, I used to make my mother, Suzana Elnai, worry a lot, because I would always move my legs back and forth when sick lying in the bed making music beats in my head.
My mum didn’t understand it. She always thought that I was too sick. She did everything to make sure that I was al right. It was fun though ha-ha.
I also played jerry cans for drums and because of my musical nature, my mum told me that a man, who was her friend and a soldier, wanted to take me to stay with him at his house, since I was always in love with his guitar and songs, but my mum of course refused.
This man kept trying but my mum stood her ground so he gave up. But when I went to Yambio,(South Sudan) in 2011, I found him with his big live band and I became part of it for the time I was there.
He was so happy! He narrated to me all the stories that happened when I was a little child and what he had seen in me back then. He felt like this was a “dream come true”.
My passion for music kept growing until when I got a little older and started dancing in my church Sunday school.
As a child, I went to almost every church because of the music and drama found there, music was all I was interested in.
A few years later; I became part of my primary school Brass band from 2002 – 2005.
The trumpet was my major instrument. I was also a part time player in the Uganda Police brass band (Arua Branch) 2005-2006.
I learnt to play the acoustic guitar as well as the trumpet in 2002. And that became a catalyst that inspired me to develop my talent in music. Since then, I have served as a bandleader in several music groups, including Asifiwe band and Children’s Choir, and Church worship band at Calvary Chapel Entebbe (Uganda).
I volunteered as a worship leader and youth leader at the church while writing and composing my own music.
Born by the name, Elnai James Juma, in 1990 from the war torn region of Sudan in a small town called Ri- Rungu in Yambio the now capital state of Western Equaroria, South Sudan, bordering Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
My father served as a medical doctor in Ri- rungu hospital but he died when I was only 8 months old.
As a child, I didn’t understand why I had no father like the rest of my friends until when I was a bit older.
I started to understand what it all meant in a war zone without a father. The Sudan civil war interrupted my childhood, education, my family and friends and therefore, I was in and off school all the time. I avoided being abducted as a child soldier several times.
Finally, a friend of my mother helped me to flee the country for Uganda in January 2000. As a result of all these things, I was unable to meet my brothers until 2005 and 2008 as they had also fled for their lives.
Almost a decade went by before I saw my mother and siblings again. God willing, I hope to one day meet my brother Jebdaya Mabilindi who fled to Central African Republic.
May my music and story inspire you
Let the music play!