Sunday, 25 October 2015

Almajiri! The Meaning And Their System Of Education In The Northern Nigeria

Almajiri boys in the northern Nigeria
Almajiri boys
I was born and bread in that part of the country. I grow up to see these boys begging from house to house for their daily meal. I was so used to them, I never see it as been stranged and never thought there was anything wrong in doing that. To me I thought, it was a normal lifestyle all round the world. And the meaning of Almajiri and Their system of education is not new to me.

If you are a Northener, or had once visited that part of Nigeria. You will observe that, in the traffic around towns, motor parks, event centers and religious houses,  you see small boys with plastic bowls begging either for money or food.

By mere assessement of these children, you may not want to believe that this children have parents living on the surface of this earth.

You will never imagine they are under the care of anyone. They are always dressed in no more than what we can call rags and many of them walk without shoes on their feet.

If you are new to our environment just like "Lekan" did two days ago. You may mistaken these children for orphans but they are not. And I will tell you who they are.

Two days ago, when I was travelling to Kaduna from Kwara State. I met a guy in the bus, who has never travel down to North. On getting to a part of Niger state where passengers are expected to all come down, pray, eat before they continue their journey.

So we were both seated eating in one of the restaurants when we noticed more than 15 boys had surrounded us, expecting us to give them the reminant. They dressed in what ordinary person cannot use as rags.

It was stranged to him, and he asked who were those boys? And where are their parents. I just have to explain to him this way:

Who are Almajiri boys? 

They are students of Islamic boarding schools, which is known as Almajiri in the Northern part. "Almajiri" is not really an hausa word, but a borrowed word from Arabic to discribe someone who leaves his home in search of knowledge.

In charge of their daily need is their mallam  "the teachers". He is their everything in that very part of the world. He is expected to teach, feed and provide necessary basic needs for them. But most times it doesn't work out that way. As he also have his own family to take care of.
Sharing food

Unfortunately, these boys will have to leave their homes and result to street begging. To me this arrangement has never been strange.

We understood the concept and I see nothing wrong in it before I travelled down to the Western part of the country for one year National youth service.

In the Western environment, their arrangement of learning was completely different. Where training of their children is the responsibility of parents. No matter how poor.

Where are Almajiri from?

They are children from every part of the Northern part of Nigeria. Some muslim parents send their children to get Islamic education from respected Islamic scholars.

Some children come from as far as neighboring countries such as Chad Republic, Niger and Sudan to learn here. These children are have an average age of four or five.

The children are put under the care of these teachers as guardians  and mallams. Usually, they ended up being neglected and exploited.

After several years of their training in these Almajiri schools, the ones that become scholar themselves will establish their own schools and continue to admit students like others.

Where are their parents?

Their parents are in their various states or countries. They hardly pay them a visit. Some of them did not even know where in particular the children are.

With this neglect,  it becomes so obvious that these children have been abandoned. Children as young as this age are left without any parental care is painful.

My friend was so sad when I told him that, so many of their parents are not helpful at all. They send their children to these schools and do not bother to check up on them for any reason.

 It is their belief that, whatever hardship they passed through, it is part of learning. I stand to correct this wrong impression. Because no learning process deserved to be suffered on like this...I wished they can live a better life to learn.


  1. Hmm

  2. This is serious. I call them beggars cos that is what they appear to look like. Government needs to do something about them biko. They are expose to lot of vices. No wonder Boko Haram uses them.

    Saheed we need your view on this post
    Thank you

  3. They are everywhere down in the north... And yes their parents are very much alive..its really sad

    Glowyshoe blog

  4. I had never heard of this. My first impulse would be to help, but once you told me they were Moslems, I felt a reluctance to contribute to a religion that stands for oppression.

  5. Its unfortunate you have a misconception about Islam as a religion.

    What am very sure of is that, the basis on which any religion should either be judged, accepted or condemed is the teaches of its divined book and that of its prophets.

    Quran 28:83 says '' we will reserve the houses of the hereafter exclusively for those who do not seek self glory in this life and do not cause oppression and corruption to spread. the final outcome belongs to those who fear Allah"

    From the above verse, you can read the position of islam on oppression. so also in many teachings of the prophet.

    How are you doing?

  6. America has its problems, things such as materialism, selfishness, warmongering, rampant immorality, superficiality, and so on, but for the gross abuse of human rights, one must look to the Islamic countries. To people like myself who have no religion, it’s meaningless to cherry-pick sublime passages from the Bible or the Koran when the actions of those who know those books best cause ignorance, provincialism, tribalism, oppression, poverty, and misery.

    I am fine, thank you. I live in Oregon, USA. It’s rainy and mountainous here, but there are also vast expanses of desert and hundreds of mile of seashore. I have a new kitten, am 66-years old, and have been married 43 years. I am honored to call your reader, Joseph, my friend. He is a Catholic and our differences could hardly be greater, yet we both read one another’s blogs from time to time, and I treasure him more because it’s hard for people who disagree so to remain loyal to one another, and Joseph and I can do that. I hope you and I can too.


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