Talibe Children in West Africa
Living in the village, my son will amount to nothing. Our family has no hope to climb the social ladder or gain approval from Allah. I have heard that by sending a child to the city they can be trained to read the Qur’an and gain an education. My son is only 4 years old, but I believe the best thing for him is to send him away. I fear for him as he will be alone on his journey... I pray to Allah that my son will travel safely and find the marabout when he arrives.
The Talibe are children sent from their homes to live and study the Qur’an with Islamic scholars called marabouts. The marabouts, in turn, send the boys to beg in the streets for food and money.
The marabout provides guidance, protection, and intercession. In return, a talibe pays allegiance to his marabout through economic support or tithes. Failure to meet set quotas can result in physical abuse.
ABUSE OF TALIBES
Some marabouts exploit them for labour. These talibe live in tight quarters and are often neglected and in poor health. As many as 30 talibe boys can live in a makeshift lean-to of only 16 square meters in the massive city of Dakar. That’s about a half-square meter of living/sleeping space for each boy. They sleep piled on top of each other and struggle during rainy season as the structure will flood.
The nature of this exploitation exposes them to disease, injury, death, physical abuse and sexual abuse.
Because the marabout can be possessive of his talibe, the best way to reach these kids is during the day. Ministries for medical services, food, and sports have been very effective among talibe boys.
I’ve been a talibe boy my whole life. Years of begging for money and living in fear of being beaten by my teacher are coming to an end.
But where am I supposed to go now that I’m an adult? I don’t know where I came from. I have no family. As far as I can remember I have belonged to my marabout. Does Allah really want this for me? Is there not a God who teaches love?
- Pray for an increase in missionaries reaching out to talibe boys.
- There are 50,000 talibe in Dakar, Senegal alone and 400,000 children at risk in West Africa as a whole. Pray God would protect these boys and lead them to the truth.