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29:59 mins.
Politics | 22.03.2019

Africalink on Air - 22 March 2019

Senegal's dangerous madrassas

Inside the Daaras

Eight-year-old Omar Wone sits on the floor of the daara — a traditional Quranic school in Senegal. Families from different parts of the country have long sent their children to these schools where they not only learn the scriptures of the Koran, but are forced to beg on the streets — supposedly to learn modesty.

Senegal's dangerous madrassas

Dependent on the marabouts

A Koran student begs in front of a hotel in the city of Saint-Louis in Senegal. Some human rights organizations say that the students — known as talibes — often live under poor conditions. They say their teachers force them to beg and are beaten if they do not return with enough. As a result, some children run away.

Senegal's dangerous madrassas

Money or abuse?

"I can't go to see my parents until I finish learning the Koran," says 10-year-old Suleiman. "I have to bring back 200 francs (30 euro cents) a day to the marabout (Koranic teacher), otherwise I will be beaten up. Often I can't collect the sum." There are no protective measures in place for children who run away and find themselves living on the streets.

Senegal's dangerous madrassas

No choice

Moussa — a Koran student from Futa — carries a bucket of water so he can take a shower at an organization which helps talibe street children. "My parents know that I'm begging to give money to the marabout, but they won't do anything," he says. "I don't like to beg, but I'm forced to. I'm beaten up if I don't take money back."

Senegal's dangerous madrassas

Breaking a taboo

For a long time, the abuse of Tablie was a taboo topic in Senegal. But thanks to education campaigns, a debate about the conditions in Koran schools is slowly starting. As early as 2016, President Macky Sall ordered the children to be taken off the streets and arrested the teachers who forced them to beg. 300 children could have been helped by this program in 2018.

Senegal's dangerous madrassas


Issa Kouyate, the founder of Maison de la Gare, is crying. An eight-year-old Koran student just told him what he went through. He ran away from school and was raped several times during the night by a teenager on the streets. Kouyate rescued him. "Such incidents are still very shocking, even if you experience them ten or fifteen times," he said.

Senegal's dangerous madrassas

Infected with scabies

El Hadj Diallou, a former talibe, now works as a doctor at Maison de la Gare. He is treating a Koran student infected with scabies. Experts say that many parents do not know how their children are abused in some madrassas. They send their children to the schools because a degree can help them become imams or Koran teachers.

Senegal's dangerous madrassas

Karate lessons

"I'm learning karate to defend myself," says eight-year-old Demba. One teacher forced him to spend the whole night on the streets begging for money. The next morning he was robbed by a drunken man. In the Maison de la Gare the talibes are provided with food, water and medicine. In addition to karate, they can learn other sports and English.

Senegal's dangerous madrassas

Searching for food amongst the garbage

13-year-old Ngorsek searches the garbage containers of the city of Saint-Louis for food. "I ran away from school because I couldn't take it anymore. The marabout mistreated me and beat me. I've had enough". According to the NGO Human Rights Watch, over 100,000 children in Senegal are still being forced to beg.

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"Congo Stars" exhibition: Congolese art from five decades

The image of a prosperous Congo and hope, 2006

In this painting, titled "L'image d'un Congo prospère et d'espoir" the artist, Makenge Mamungwa, alias SAPINart, has a vision of what his future home would look like. Although the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is rich in natural resources, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world. But the artistic scene, on the other hand, shows a thriving and prosperous country.

"Congo Stars" exhibition: Congolese art from five decades

Marching against HIV/AIDS

Cheri Samba is one of the stars of Congolese art. He founded the "Zaire School of Popular Painting" in Kinshasa and has taken part in major international exhibitions since 1989. Through his works, he shows how he interacts with Congolese in their everyday life - from nightlife that features mainly music, to poverty, exploitation, and disease such as AIDS (French acronym "SIDA").

"Congo Stars" exhibition: Congolese art from five decades

Article 15, 1992

Bayangu Mayala, known as Maitre SYMS, learned screen printing and portraiture at Cheri Samba's art school before opening his own studio in 1977. He also devotes himself to the everyday concerns of the Congolese. in his piece "Article 15" he is refering to a popular Congolese joke, which, according to Article 15 of the Constitution states that everyone must take care of themselves.

"Congo Stars" exhibition: Congolese art from five decades

Nganda Tika Muana, 1992

Monsengo Kejwamfi, "Moke", is a self-taught painter. Today, he is one of the internationally best-known promoters of Congolese art. He sees himself as a "painter journalist". Many of his works show the typical beard-busting brand in Kinshasa, in which the mutual dependence of money and love in a patriarchal society is never concealed.

"Congo Stars" exhibition: Congolese art from five decades

Satellite King, 2012

Monsengo Shula began painting murals and commercial art as the assistant to his cousin Moke at the age of fifteen. "Roi satellite" refers to Zaire's short-lived but ambitious space program under Mobutu in the 1970s. Shulas "Afronauts", orbiting in colorful space suits, represent a future characterized by progress and prosperity.

"Congo Stars" exhibition: Congolese art from five decades

Mami Wata, 1962

One of the oldest paintings at the exhibition is by Kayembe F. The mermaid-like hybrid being is always accompanied by a snake and is considered a seducer as well as the cause of suffering. Ironically, with her fair complexion, the mermaid symbolically represents the pursuit of prosperity and a life of luxury.

"Congo Stars" exhibition: Congolese art from five decades

An Imaginary Trip, # 11, 2006

Inspired by her father's photographic work, Gosette Lubondo devoted herself to studio photography while studying graphic design at the Académie des Beaux-Arts de Kinshasa. In her photo series "Imaginary Trip" she deals with the need to travel (by train), which has always been very difficult in DR Congo due to the lack of connections.

"Congo Stars" exhibition: Congolese art from five decades

Los Galacticos, 2010

Joseph Kinkonda, (Cheri Cherin) also studied at the "Académie des Beaux-Arts de Kinshasa". Among his teachers was the Austrian artist Peter Weihs. In the 1970s they arose the "peinture populaire", a popular form of art features known personalities and villains alike. Cheri Cherin uses humor as one way for art lovers to critically reflect on the country's problems.

"Congo Stars" exhibition: Congolese art from five decades

Ko bungisa mbala mibale (Second Loss), 2017

Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga founded M'Pongo studio with like-minded artists in 2011. In the series "Perte de repères" (Loss of References) he deals with the period after independence when there was loss of identity and the economic consequences of deindustrialization. His works and those of other artists will be on display at the Tübingen art gallery until the end of June.

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