Saturday, December 02, 2006

Tiny little Juna is sick and dirty and far too young to be trawling the streets for food- if there is ever an age where that is acceptable. He is one of the numerous mendiants of Djenné, and comes every morning hoping to be given something to eat. I have never seen him smile. (See entry Oct. 23 ) The problem is that he is not an orphan- his parents may even be well -to -do, but they have chosen to send him off to study the koran with one of Djenné's Marabouts, and he is left to fend for himself as far as food is concerned. I am enraged by this cruel custom- and I am not the only one: Djenné is divided into the old and new school of thought on this. There are the traditionalists who want Sharia law to be introduced and who are in favour of the koran schools and their mendiant children. It is of course supposed to foster humility and reliance on Allah and and a spirituality in the same tradition as perhaps the Christian desert fathers , and this aceticism is not the monopoly of Islam or Christianity- even Buddist monks go off begging. But at four/five years old?
The majority of educated people here want a stop to this custom, and so did the heroic, inspired, marvellous, mad, naive Thomas Sankara, the tragically assassinated ex-president of Burkina Faso, about whom later... Posted by Picasa


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