The Daraa and the little talibés (Sénégal, Africa)


It sounds like a fairy tales, but it’s not. What is a Daraa? A daraa is a Koranic school in Sénégal. The teacher is a Marabout, a man who knows the Koran. He teaches is pupils, named talibe.

The children comes from the poorest family. Most come from distant rural villages. A good Muslim must know the Koran. For this reason, many Muslim parents in Senegal send their young sons to distant Koranic schools—called daaras—where they may spend several years memorizing the sacred text.

The little boys spend nine hours a day begging and five hours learning the Koran. At 8 a.m. the boys are sent out to beg for three hours, then they return to the shack for learning, which involves chanting Koranic verses, until 1 p.m. They beg for their lunch until 2, learn the Koran until 5, then are sent out to beg until 10.

Filthy and ragged, these boys, as young as 5 or 6, scurry barefoot through the dusty streets with tomato paste cans as begging bowls, knowing that if they come back two days running with no coins they will be beaten with a whip.

Marabouts say they force children to beg for money for food because their parents don’t pay fées.

The United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, estimated in a 2004 report that Senegal has 100,000 child beggars, mostly talibes — almost 1% of the population.

The Daraa we visited was about 5 kms from our hôtel in Saly, at Petite Cote (the little coast, 80 kms south from Dakar). A little construction, one room for the marabout, with a bed. Another room for the kids, no beds. No trees around. A well for the water. Three goats and a few chicken. At four o’clock, the kids were having meal : rice and fishes in the collective bowl. After lunch, they recited the Koran. They don’t speak french, though french is the official tongue in Sénégal, They don’t go to the public school, because they are too poor.

written by azurblue on 2010-02-28 #places #school #children #countryside #boys #location #poor #senegal #daraa #talibe #koranic #saly


  1. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    I remember all these begging kids from the koranic school in Burkina Faso... it's kind of sad to see these poor children used liked this.... but instructive location!! :)

  2. stouf
    stouf ·

    Agreed with vicuna ! And I love N°14 !

  3. stouf
    stouf ·

    I'm an atheist. In my own opinion, there is no superior being. Homo Sapiens is the superior being of the world ecosystem. Nothing more. Nonetheless, I respect other's beliefs... And I think what your showing is terrible, and could happen with any religion. The problem there seems more to be the extreme poverty, and child mistreat by bad people. An European parallel to this story could be the recent scandals with Irish Catholic... Well... I'm just saying...

  4. azurblue
    azurblue ·

    It's not a funny location, and I've hesitated before posting. But it's what I saw there. I wasn't prepared to "visit" a Daara, and it shocked me.

    I saw less talibe in Mali.
    Sénégal is a poor country, but richer than Mali.

    stouf, les talibe c'est vraiment une affaire juteuse pour certains "religieux".

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