Talibé -
least favoured children of Senegal

A young boy in his Daara just moments after handing over his daily quota.
The name “talibé” derives from the Arabic word for disciple, apprentice, or student. Talibés are what first meets the eye as one sets foot in Senegal. It is difficult not to be touched by their stories of systematic physical abuse, often fading memories of their families and homes, and their life in local schools called Daaras.
The name “talibé” derives from the Arabic word for disciple, apprentice, or student. Talibés are what first meets the eye as one sets foot in Senegal. It is difficult not to be touched by their stories of systematic physical abuse, often fading memories of their families and homes, and their life in local schools called Daaras.

“Estimated 50 000 boys live in conditions akin to slavery…”

The plight of the talibés was brought to Fallckolm's attention in early 2007 while holding a guest lecture at Oxford University. The photos were taken in Dakar, St. Louis and the Holy City of Touba, while working on child protection with a local organization. They are an attempt to capture the lives of the children in and outside the Daaras.
The plight of the talibés was brought to Fallckolm's attention in early 2007 while holding a guest lecture at Oxford University. The photos were taken in Dakar, St. Louis and the Holy City of Touba, while working on child protection with a local organization. They are an attempt to capture the lives of the children in and outside the Daaras.
Talibés
are mostly boys
enrolled in local schools known as Daaras. Most talibés are between the age of 4 and 16, although older boys are not uncommon. In 2010, Human Rights Watch estimated that about 50,000 boys are subjected to systemic neglect, physical abuse, while living in the Daaras. It is not uncommon for the children to spend up to 12 hours on the streets begging. Whatever they collect is given to their teacher, also known as a Marabou. Many of the children are brought to the Daaras under what can be rubricated as trafficking.
Talibés gathering outside a shelter in St. Louis.
Three boys making their way through the streets of St. Louis during the annual floods.
A talibé making his way through the flooded streets of St. Louis.

The practice
of keeping talibés
is deeply rooted in the history of the country, it reflects strong veneration for the founder of the Mouride Brotherhood and his relation to one particular disciple. In Senegal the relationship with the Marabou is often lifelong. The Marabou is present in all social cultural and spiritual life. While families are often aware of the conditions in many of the Daaras, custom dictates that all children should have a Marabou.
A paraplegic Marabout and his disciple in a flooded Daara. Resembling the situation of “restive-children” in Haiti, many children are not given adequate schooling.
The practice
of keeping talibés
is deeply rooted in the history of the country, it reflects strong veneration for the founder of the Mouride Brotherhood and his relation to one particular disciple. In Senegal the relationship with the Marabou is often lifelong. The Marabou is present in all social cultural and spiritual life. While families are often aware of the conditions in many of the Daaras, custom dictates that all children should have a Marabou.
Younger boys being subjected to corporal punishment by an older talibé during a lesson.
Young talibés in a classroom reading.
The Mourides
are a large Sufi
order in western Africa. The order was founded roughly around 1883 and quickly became a strong religious institution and a symbol for Senegal's non-violent resistance to French colonial rule. Central to their belief system is the importance of the Marabou as a spiritual leader and the sanctity of hard manual labor. In a country with a large segment of the population still suffering from chronic poverty, the important relation between a spiritual leader and disciple has come to justify the use of talibés for generating a livelihood.
A marabou reading from the Holy Qu’ran after a meal in an empty daara.

Local
and international
organisations are struggling to provide the most rudimentary medical, psychosocial and educational support. Many children suffer from chronic malnutrition and regular infections due to the lack of sanitary facilities. Many organisations are increasingly also working towards creating regulative frameworks for the Daaras. However, local Marabouts have shown reluctance.
A young boy receiving medical assistance from a local organization.
Local
and international
organisations are struggling to provide the most rudimentary medical, psychosocial and educational support. Many children suffer from chronic malnutrition and regular infections due to the lack of sanitary facilities. Many organisations are increasingly also working towards creating regulative frameworks for the Daaras. However, local Marabouts have shown reluctance.
A talibé awaiting medical assistance at a child protection shelter. St. Louis, Senegal.
Local social workers on their way to a remote daara. Daily inspections of the schools are conducted on foot.

Get
involved
by supporting La Maison De La Gare -
a local protection and education center working with talibés in St. Louis, Senegal. Learn more about the organisation from their official website at: www.mdgsl.com

Get
involved
by supporting La Maison De La Gare -
a local protection and education center working with talibés in St. Louis, Senegal. Learn more about the organisation from their official website at: www.mdgsl.com

Photo Essay Series

  • Stacks Image 984
    CHIATURA
  • Stacks Image 931
    SWEDEN
  • Stacks Image 937
    AFGHANISTAN
  • Stacks Image 943
    SENEGAL
  • Stacks Image 949
    THE AMERICAS
  • Stacks Image 955
    “1968”
Stacks Image 965
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