Accepted paper:

Bissau-Guinean Koran school students in Senegal: experiences and identity

Authors:

Hamadou Boiro (University of Iceland/INEP)
Jónína Einarsdóttir (University of Iceland)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation explores stories of former and current Bissau-Guinean Koran school boys in Senegal, including repatriated ones. Their experiences and comparisons of conditions in Senegal and their home community is examined, and their thoughts of themselves as Muslims globally and locally.

Paper long abstract:

Boys referred to as talibés in Senegal have got much media attention and often they are in focus in policy documents and reports on child trafficking. Many of these boys originate from Guinea-Bissau, and according to The Trafficking in Persons Report 2012: "[u]nscrupulous marabouts … or their intermediaries, recruit [them] under the pretense of offering them a Koranic education, but subsequently transport them to Senegal … where they are forced to beg for money." There are ongoing anti-trafficking activities that aim to prevent their crossing of borders and repatriation. The presentation is based on interviews with former and current Bissau-Guinean talibes taken in the eastern regions of Guinea-Bissau in early 2014. What do adult males, who have attended Koran schools in Senegal and returned, and younger ones, some of whom are currently attending such schools in the neighbouring country, have to say about their life in Senegal? The males reflect on their life as a talibe in Senegal, and compare it with their conditions of life at home. Was/is there better access to food and other necessities of life? Were/are they punished more harshly than at home? What aspect of life was/is the most difficult? Is the situation of talibes in Senegal getting worse as compared to former days? Considering all the suffering, were the religious studies worthwhile? What have talibes who were 'rescued' and repatriated, an outcome seen by their own local community as the worst possible, have to say about their experiences.

panel P012
Independent child migration in an interconnected world