Author:Hannah Hoechner (University of East Anglia)
Paper short abstract:
The almajirai live as traditional Qur’anic students in northern Nigeria. Nine almajirai from Kano State have been trained to write the script for this film, to do most of the acting, to handle the camera, and to give the stage directions. This film shows their views and experiences.
Paper long abstract:
The Hausa term almajiri derives from the Arabic al-muhajir, which means 'migrant'. Some people also say the syllable al stands for Allah, while ma stands for the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), and jiri for the archangel Jibril. The almajirai are boys and young men from primary school age to their early twenties who have come to the cities and villages in Northern Nigeria to study the Holy Qur'an. The almajirai don't stay with their parents, most of whom reside in rural areas, but live with their Qur'anic teacher (malam).
Modern subjects do not form part of their curriculum. Instead, the almajirai learn to read, write, and recite the Holy Qur'an. During the lesson-free time, they earn their livelihood: Older students (gardi) do menial jobs and engage in petty trade or handicrafts. Younger students work as household helps, or beg for food and money on the streets, which makes them a highly visible feature of the urban landscape.
While many people hold strong views about the almajiri-system, sadly, the almajirai themselves are rarely listened to. This film hopes to offer an insight into their perspectives and concerns. Nine young people from three different Qur'anic schools in Kano State have been trained to write the script for this film, to do most of the acting, to handle the camera, and to give the stage directions. This film shows their views and experiences they made while living as almajirai in Kano.