Feeling empty tonight…..
A couple of days ago I logged into the website of Mario Cruz, a crazy talented photographer and photojournalist from Portugal. One of his articles, “The Truth About Child Trafficking in Senegal”, was recently featured in Newsweek and his photograph won the World Press photo contest in the Spot News Category. His work really tells it like it is here and really opens your eyes to the life of the Talibe here in Senegal. I encourage you to check out his work. http://www.mario-cruz.com
His story really brought up some raw feelings again about the situation here. This beautiful country, full of tradition and African culture, has this very dark deep rooted problem, and it mystifies me that in this day, in this time, that child trafficking can exist in full view of anyone that wants to notice.
April 20th was marked the National Day for Talibe, to raise awareness of the problems here in Senegal. There is talk of changes coming and some prosecutions have been laid against corrupt Marabouts, but it is happening slowly and seems to fade away with time. It isn’t until something horrible…something unimaginable, happens that this problems takes center stage again.
Only two days after the talks for change, I read in the news about another Talibe death, taken by the very hands of the Marabout that is there to provide and protect and teach him. There are no words to express my emotions. It just is, and what it will be again until child trafficking here is a thing of the past and prosecutions become as regular as child exploitation.
The following is the translated report from the article published on Seneweb.
“It was in order to allow my two children to have a solid education that I resolved to send them to a school able to provide them quality education. That’s why I brought Ousmane and his senior at the Franco-Arab school in Pikine. But, he recalled, there a month ago, the ground seemed to bend under his feet when late at night he received the bad news about his son.
“On 25 March, while I was busy with my work, the marabout called me and told me bluntly that Ousmane had passed away at 5 am. As a father, you can imagine what I must have felt? The floor seemed to give way under my feet. And it is as if someone had planted a knife in the heart. I was so hurt that I had to walk to Guinaw Rail Bene Baraque. I could not believe my son was dead, but when I got to school and I untied the cloth that covered it, I folded the sad reality. Ousmane was no longer of this world.
It only remained for me to take his body to bring it to the morgue of the Great Mosque of Guinaw Rail “says Sow. Despite his illness, he continued: “The next morning, when conducting the funeral bath, I realized that his mouth was bloody. His neck was so twisted that he could not support the head. When passing the towel, her skin was detached from his body. Already the day before, when he was at the morgue, her belly was so swollen that it had put two bricks that deflates. ” Mr Sow also said a few moments rather, the marabout appeared at his home with a death search certificate that was issued to him by a doctor named Mb. Niasse. “This gentleman who runs a clinic informed me that it is because the marabout is his friend that he felt obliged to do him a favor.”
The resulting document, he stressed that it is in the afternoon they went to the cemetery for burial. “In the afternoon, when we went to the cemetery Thiaroye to conduct the burial, the curator did not fail to express doubts about the authenticity of the document, but was begged let us proceed to the burial. Two days later, when I was alone, the corpse of images passed through my head.
I struggled to divest myself of guilt inside me. I thought that if you can prevent the death of my son, because of the irreversible nature of this state, I had to invest at least for me that the circumstances of his death remain unclear. I then took my courage in both hands to go Yeumbeul inform the police. ” An investigation led to the arrest of five people whose marabout (A. Touré), the doctor and his assistant, and curator and sexton of the cemetery of Thiaroye.
The cemetery close to Argos home is where the Marabout took the child to be buried, without a authentic death certificate, in hopes of covering up what had happened. In the early afternoon, he had the keeper open the gate so he can carry out his plan before anyone questioned what had happened. Fortunately, the haunting memories of the deceased child led the child’s father to get the police involved and the entire story came to light April 23. It seems like a made for TV movie, but the sad thing is, this is reality here. The marabout is now awaiting prosecution.
As I was leaving a restaurant last night in Dakar, the recent events still fresh in my mind, several Talibe came to my car window to get fresh oranges that I had bought to take home. One by one they appeared and with each handout I wished so much that I could just stay there with them and talk with them, get to know their story and keep them safe from the life they have been exposed to. Son of Africa has room for just 6 boys at this time, a far cry from the estimated 50,000 to 60,000 Talibe here in Senegal, but it’s a start and I know for 6 little boy,s it will make a world of difference.
Please help to spread awareness of the situation here and Son Of Africas role by sharing my post. I thank you, as will the many Talibe living this life each day.