My Chance Meeting with Kaolack’s Almudi’s

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By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT

On my way back home to The Gambia, I boarded a vehicle from Garage Nyorr in Kaolack to border village Amdalaye. While at the garage I changed some Dalasis to CFA to pay for my trip and for some breakfast. While changing all I could see around me were little boys begging for money. There were so many that I couldn’t count them all.

Known locally as Almudi, these boys were very unkempt and you could see that they hadn’t had a shower for days. Sometimes we take little things for granted like having access to a shower everyday. However, one thing they were very good at was begging and praying for your safe trip, good health, good luck and everything you wish for in your journey. It was apparent that they were good mannered children that lacked nurturing and care that all kids that age need growing up.

After instructing a senior Chef de Garage to share some few hundred CFA between about five Almudis I looked around to find some breakfast and realised I only had enough CFA for a drink. I had given away my Senegalese breakfast and would have to settle with a Gambian one after I crossed. The wait was a small price to pay in exchange for the glee on their faces. Nonetheless, that isn’t the main reason for writing this story.

Sitting in the vehicle waiting to takeoff to Karang I was approached by more Almudis begging for money. My intolerance for the feeling of helplessness in the face of poverty drove me send the first one away saying in Wollof “I don’t have anything”. That didn’t deter more small boys from trying their luck. Maybe it was something about the way I was dressed that signaled to them this guy has money. Or perhaps they were simply non-discriminatory beggers asking every single passenger in sight.

One of them prayed so hard and so well that I felt obliged to drop some life lessons to him. I called him and another Almudi over and asked them to listen carefully.

“Young man I wish I could help all of you today but unfortunately I don’t have the money to help you all. What I have is more than money and I promise it will change your life. Life is very hard but with determination and dedication, you can make it. Don’t spend your whole day begging in the streets. “Yallah Yallah baye sa toll” prayers must follow hard work.”

“If you spend half of your day begging, spend the other half learning a trade. Shadow a professional who’s willing to take you in as their apprentice.”

At that precise moment, a man selling electronics appeared right next to us. I pointed to him as an example “you can sell electronics like this guy. Don’t spend all your days begging. Learn a trade and apply it just like you’re doing in how you pray and beg and I promise you that you will rise out of poverty.”

According to sources, Almudi’s are set an amount to “versey” everyday by their so-called “serign” religious leaders, and if they don’t get the set amount then they get into trouble. Thats why most of them try to get the maximum amout as early as possible. Once they have met their target only then will they seek food.

Apparently, there was a law passed to stop this type of exploitation in Senegal, but it never got implemented.

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