Between koranic school and the government school system

Report from Hireine Gougoure, Master in Visual Cultural Studies, University of Tromsø
Project 200800753-16

Financial support for the project:
“In between tradition and modernity: today Fulbe‘s reality in Mayo-Darle, Northern Cameroon”

First I would like to say thanks to the Sami centre for the financial support for my fieldwork in Cameroon. It had helped me for my transportation, accommodation and subsistence to the field.

In fact, my starting point when I was leaving was to conduct investigations in the Fulbe ethnic group in Mayo-Darle. I wanted to know how they are trying to keep their culture in this period of rapid transition. I was going to use video camera to make a film and I was also going to take field notes and use both materials to write a thesis. I made it.

Fulbe people in Mayo-Darle are pastoralist. Some of them are traders. They are Muslims. They are trying to keep their way of life. What I have observed and learned during my research is that they keep their way of life by sensing children to Koranic School. In the said school, children acquire religious knowledge and also respect to elders. That is why I was filming in a particular Koranic school hold by a Modibbo (religious teacher). There I had three children as characters. But, some Fulbe people are aware of the fact that religious and traditional knowledge nowadays don’t give employment in Cameroon. So, they send their children to modern school. One of my characters is a fourteen years old boy who attends both Koranic and modern school. Every day, he first goes to Koranic school early in the morning from six to eight o’clock. After wards, he goes to modern school and come back at three o’clock in the afternoon. And I did follow him in both schools. In Koranic School, I have focused on the way the said school helps this child to lean about his religion (Islam) and to keep their way of life. In the modern school, I was occupied by the changes that occurred in his behavior while attending this particular school. But I have learned that Koranic school is their favorite. Almost every child told me that if he has to choose between these two types of education, he will not hesitate to choose Koranic School. Only one girl of eight years old told me that she’ll never abandon one of both schools. She said she likes both. My character who attends modern school said he would like to become a minister. And he said after he has finished with Koranic School, he will become a Ladan (the person who calls for prayer). So he is now in between tradition and modernity.

I can say that for the period of three months that I have spent in Mayo-Darle among Fulbe people, I have learned a lot. The field notes and the filming material that I’ve got are really sufficient to write my thesis and edit the film. I have got about twenty tapes. Now, in this 2008-2009 academic year, I will be writing my thesis and editing the film which will be submitted in order to obtain Master’s degree in Visual Cultural Studies.

Once more, thanks much to the Sami center. Tusen tusen takk!

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