Analyse des dynamiques religieuses à l’Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey (UAM) à travers les interactions entre les étudiants salafis et pentecôtistes

Bello Adamou, Mahamadou. ‘Analyse des dynamiques religieuses à l’Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey (UAM) à travers les interactions entre les étudiants salafis et pentecôtistes’. PhD dissertation, Niamey: Université Abdou Moumouni, 2023.

Final Conference “University Campuses in Africa and Beyond: Training Grounds, Moral Spaces and Political Arenas”

Thanks to a generous grant from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, Remoboko organised its final conference entitled “University Campuses in Africa and Beyond: Training Grounds, Moral Spaces and Political Arenas” at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin on 6-8 September 2023.

Concept note

A learning and training institution, the university constitutes both a moral space and a social fabric (Nafziger and Strong 2020; Ndofirepi and Cross 2017). Historically, university campuses have been at the heart of social and political imaginations and experiences, and have proved transformative of aspirations, living conditions and power relations across the world. In Europe and America, university campuses offered the breeding grounds for political ideas and aspirations that radically transformed social dynamics, especially in the 1960s; in both colonial and postcolonial Africa, universities emerged as the building sites of the state and the central piece of the political economy of the newly set polities, as they trained the backbone of the state administration (Mellanby 1958; Ike 1977), promised social advancement and even development (Assié-Lumumba 2011; Livsey 2017); in contemporary India, university campuses breed and feed nationalism, exclusionary and identity politics; at the global level, the branching out of universities has become a trend and a model for a knowledge economy that is conquering the world, drawing interest from various walks of the society, but also prompting reconsideration of the added-value of university education and campus experience today (Connell 2019; Guèye 2017; Mellanby 1958; Hauerwas 2007).

While university education can be defined as a social asset, the campus emerges as a political arena (Assié-Lumumba 2011) that often hosts rival and competing ideas and actors working to offer visions of the world, models of social status and even divine salvation. In many countries, as a state institution, the university is at the center of public policies and affects governance, especially since its funding, for example, has implications for both political stability, youth aspirations, economic performance and social coexistence.

Such as a position has turned university campuses into moral spaces, sites of contestations and arenas where various moral agents be they leftist, secular or religious, take roles, acquire influence, and engage in competitions that shape the experience of being student, lecturer, or staff member. What skills and expertise become valued, sought for, and promoted? What social engineering initiatives, moral entrepreneurships and political agendas unfold and mobilize on university campuses today? How are these agents, claims and agendas co-habiting the same space? How is this process affecting life on campus? What forms, tools and ideas of politics emerge in that context? What moral ecology unfolds, especially when morality rests grounded into religiosity and absolute truth-claims? And then, what are the consequences of the secular dismissal of religion and religiosity, when intellectual culture is built on acute skepticism, evolutionism and even atheism?

With such questions in mind, we claim that university campuses offer a site of a critical examination of morality, aspirations and normative orders. In the quest for social becoming, students in particular, have to deal with a conjunction of moral and knowledge economies often at odds with each other, forcing them to be creative and modular, as they navigate the requirements of an academic curriculum, the constraints of everyday life and the expectations of their broader sociopolitical environment. In short, this conference seeks to examine how university campuses in Africa and beyond:

  1. offer training for various skills and know-how which translate into key assets for the social becoming of students beyond the campus;
  2. become a site of moral activism where competing claims of social good and citizenry lead to projects of self-transformation (individual, collective) and/or even conflicts of norms;
  3. feed on various forms of engagements (intellectual, religious, political) while developing their own politics (regional, religious, ethnic, ideological, etc.).

Programme

Religiosity on University Campuses in Africa: Trends and Experiences

Sounaye, Abdoulaye and Frédérick Madore, eds. Religiosity on University Campuses in Africa: Trends and Experiences. Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2023. https://www.lit-verlag.de/isbn/978-3-643-91429-3.

Abstract

This volume examines religiosity on university campuses in Sub-Saharan Africa. Focusing on both individuals and organized groups, the contributions open a window onto how religion becomes a factor, affects social interactions, is experienced and mobilized by various actors. It brings together case studies from various disciplinary backgrounds (anthropology, sociology, history, religious studies, literature) and theoretical orientations to illustrate the significance of religiosity in recent developments on university campuses. It pays a particular attention to religion-informed activism and contributes a fresh analysis of processes that are shaping both the experience of being student and the university campus as a moral space. Last but not least, it sheds light onto the ways in which the campus becomes a site of a reformulation of both religiosity and sociality.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: Religiosity on University Campuses in Africa (Abdoulaye SOUNAYE and Frédérick MADORE)
  • Straddling the “Epistemic Divide”? Medical and Faith-based Healing among Christian Students in Mbarara, South-Western Uganda (Dorothea SCHULZ and Britta BAYER)
  • Exister en contexte autoritaire : les associations étudiantes chrétiennes et islamiques à l’Université de Lomé sous Gnassingbé Eyadéma, 1970–2005 (Frédérick MADORE)
  • Pentecostalism in the University Public Sphere of Molyko (Buea, Cameroon): Challenges, Media Strategies and Students’ Involvement, 1993–2020 (Francis Arsène Fogue KUATE)
  • « Tuba », une construction de l’identité religieuse par les étudiants salafis et pentecôtistes de l’Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey, Niger (Mahamadou BELLO ADAMOU)
  • Vivre sa foi Tabligh au sein des campus de Côte d’Ivoire : ethnographie du cheminement de la religiosité des étudiants (Youssoufou BAKAYOKO)
  • Secular Dynamics and Religious Awakening on University Campuses in Ghana (Mohammed Ameen KASIM)
  • Mobiliser l’Histoire dans le contexte académique nigérien : le prisme des récits religieux (Vincent FAVIER)
  • Performing Religiosity: Protest and Prayer Performance in a Nigerian University (Stephen T. OGUNDIPE)
  • Aspiration and Activism: Muslim Students’ Future-Making in Mbarara, South-Western Uganda (Dorothea SCHULZ)
  • Islam on University Campuses in Côte d’Ivoire since the 1970s: Muslim Intellectuals and Francophone Salafism (Frédérick MADORE and Issouf BINATÉ)

Book launch “Religiosity on University Campuses in Africa: Trends and Experiences”

At the 2023 European Conferences on African Studies (ECAS) in Cologne, Abdoulaye Sounaye and Frédérick Madore launched their edited volume Religiosity on University Campuses in Africa: Trends and Experiences.

Training for good life or a good society? Religious students’ individual and collective aspirations in public universities in sub-Saharan Africa

PANEL at EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON AFRICAN STUDIES. AFRICAN FUTURES, Cologne 2023

Friday, June 2, 9:00-10:45

Convenors:
Vincent Favier (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient)
Koudbi Kabore (Joseph Ki-Zerbo University Burkina Faso)

Chairs:
Koudbi Kabore (Joseph Ki-Zerbo University Burkina Faso)

Discussants:
Vincent Favier (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient)

https://nomadit.co.uk/conference/ecas2023/p/12457

Abstract

Manifestations of religiosity have increasingly pervaded public universities in sub-Saharan Africa during the past decades and shaped social interactions within these spaces. This panel discusses the ways in which students engage with academic training and religious practice at the university, and how religiosity may affect higher education in sub-Saharan Africa. The panel focuses on Pentecostal and Salafi discourses and practices as these groups have recently gained a strong foothold in public universities across the continent. The objective is to understand the motivations of these actors and the influence they may have on the educational landscape. They are not only “reformers” within their respective religion, but also social leaders who try to shape students towards academic excellence, professional success, and religious practice. In other words, a sense of moral accountability and decolonization drives their social and political agendas. University campuses become a privileged ground for religious training and a competition arena between religious elites. How does this competition materialise on campus? What do religious leaders preach to students and how does their audience react? How do religious discourses affect the academia as a site of knowledge production? How do religious leaders, students and lecturers define the mission of institutions of higher education for their society? Taking into account the religious movements’ social and historical trajectories in their contexts, the panel interrogates the aspirations of an educated and religious youth as it envisions the future individually and collectively. The convenors welcome contributions that address these topics from different perspectives and disciplines.

Papers

  • Agency Beyond Subversion and Submission: Constructing the Pious and Educated Ethiopian Muslim Woman (Yekatit Tsehayu, University of Florida)
  • «Apprendre à lire le Coran en 12 séances» : Les étudiants de l’Université Abdou Moumouni à la quête du savoir religieux (Bello Adamou Mahamadou, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient)
  • “Too young,” “Immature,” and not Committed Enough: The Decline of Faith-Based Student Organizations in Togo and Benin? (Frédérick Madore, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient)

“Camarade Engagé” : un étudiant salafi à la tête de l’Union des Étudiants Nigériens à l’Université de Niamey

Bello Adamou Mahamadou presented his paper “Camarade Engagé”: un étudiant salafi à la tête de l’Union des Étudiants Nigériens à l’Université de Niamey” during Colloque virtuel. jeunes chercheurs-es. Dynamiques religieuses et spirituelles en Afriques et dans ses diasporas.

Report of the Workshop “Religions on Campus: Coexisting Traditions, Reformulating the Secular and Life Projects”

The workshop, organized in cooperation between the REMOBOKO research group and the Laboratoire d’Etudes et de Recherche sur les Dynamiques Sociales et le Développement Local (LASDEL) in Niamey (Niger), took place from October 31 to November 5, 2022 at the LASDEL, Niamey. Titled “Religions on Campus: Coexisting Traditions, Reformulating the Secular and Life Projects”, the workshop focused on Islam, Christianity and traditional African religions and their different representations on university campuses.

Besides the main theme of the workshop, the week also offered methodological training for young researchers in the afternoons. For this purpose, Thomas Veret, Dr. Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan, Dr. Frédérick Madore and Dr. Katrin Bromber presented different aspects of scientific writing, research, publications and field research. This dual focus allowed the participants to present and discuss their own research in the morning and to learn new aspects of methodological work in the afternoon, but also to gain insight into the scientific experience of more established scientists.

A total of 17 participants attended the workshop. In addition to researchers from Niger, Nigeria, Benin and Mali, scientists from France, Canada and Germany also participated. As the countries of origin of the participants were very diverse, the workshop was conducted in both French and English. This diversity enabled the access and view from different perspectives and different approaches, as well as bridging the gap between the Anglophone and Francophone scientific production. In addition, the workshop was open to Université Abdou Moumouni (UAM) students, who were able to actively participate in the discussions and benefit from their exchange with more experienced scientists.

On Monday, October 31, the participants were first welcomed by the scientific director of LASDEL and the Director of UAM. They emphasized the need to consider the university as a social space, confronted with conflicts of values and the importance of the REMOBOKO project and the cooperation between REMOBOKO and LASDEL. After the formal welcome, the workshop started with the first presentations. Each person presented for about an hour followed by a discussion.

Vincent Favier (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, ZMO) opened the session with his paper on “L’accueil des nouveaux bacheliers. Les étudiants découvrent l’environnement académique”. Favier’s presentation focused on the relationships between the different students and the groupings they create at UAM. Thus, the chapter he presented is not a historical outline, but an ethnographic look at university life at UAM.

This was followed by the presentation of Dr. Madore (ZMO) entitled “‘Trop jeunes’, ‘immatures’ et pas suffisamment engagés: entre déclin des associations confessionnelles et nouveaux défis du militantisme étudiant à Lomé et à Abomey-Calavi”. Although Madore is a historian, he adopted an anthropological approach. Besides the challenges for students to express their faith in an authoritarian context, Frédérick Madore dealt with the mutual influences between Christians and Muslims, the handling of religiosity and secularity, and ultimately understood the campus as a microcosm of national socio-political life. Dr. Katrin Bromber (ZMO) moderated the discussions.

After lunch, the first methodological session was led by Thomas Veret (Institut de Linguistique et Phonétique Générales et Appliquées (ILPGA), Université Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle). In his tak entitled “Publier dans une revue de sciences sociales: processus, contraintes et strategies”, Veret explained the strategies, constraints and processes that can be encountered when publishing a journal articles.

On Tuesday, 01.11 the workshop started at 08.30 chaired by Agnès Badou (LASDEL Parakou). Bello Adamou Mahamadou (ZMO) presented a chapter entitled “Adoptons-nous afin de pouvoir faire passer le message de l’Évangile: l’évangilasation pentecôtiste à l’Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey”. In this paper, Bello Adamou Mahamadou presented the approach of different actors in their missionary activities. He further examined the extent to which their proselytism contributes to the transformation of the academic public sphere and the extent to which expansionist (transnational) policies influence the UAM.

Next, Dr. Mounkaila Abdou (UAM) presented “L’enseignement d’Almaghili.” Abdou, after an introduction to Almaghili and a reflection on his work, succinctly presented his doctoral thesis on the topic of the same name. This was followed by the presentation of Abdoulbaki Djibo (UAM) “Les formes contemoraines d’appropriation de l’Islam et du christianisme à Niamey”. Djibo mainly addressed the spaces and ways of transmission of knowledge and religious values. He focused on the leading question of the forms of knowledge acquisition that promote the appropriation of Islam and Christianity.

In the afternoon, Dr. Jean Pierre Olivier de Sardan (LASDEL) provided insights into his years of field research and approach under the title “Discours des cherchés et interprétations du chercheur: exigences méthodologiques et pièges idéologiques.”

On Wednesday, November 2, Amadou Issoufou (UAM) started the day with his presentation on “La pénétration du wahhabisme dans la partie ouest du Niger”. After a geographic overview, Issoufou contextualized the emergence of Islam in Niger, in order to address the spread of Wahhabism in the country. This was followed by the presentation of Muhammad Yakasai (Humboldt University of Berlin) “Transformation of Islamic Scholarship/ learning in Kano Nigeria: 1950–1995”, which is a chapter from his dissertation. Yakasai examined the implementation of Shari’a in Kano and Northern Nigeria and the political response of Muslim elites. He intended to provide a picture of how Muslim elites establish policies from below.

Next, Dr. Nadir A. Nasidi (Ahmadu Bello University) presented “One University, Two Faiths: The Nature and Dynamics of Muslim-Christian Relations in Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria, 1977–2019.” After a historical outline of the emergence of the two religions, Islam and Christianity, in Kano, Nasidi explained the relation of the two communities and their adherents at the university campus in Kano.

After the lunch break, the participants of the workshop had an excursion to the university campus of the UAM. Here, the group had the opportunity to discuss with the general director  of the Centre régional des œuvres universitaires, the secretary general  of the Union des étudiants Nigériens de l’université de Niamey, and members of the executive committee of the Association des étudiants musulmans du Niger. The excursion was rounded off by a student event at the university’s amphitheater on issues related to sexuality. Here theory and practice were connected and the participants gained a common basis by visiting a campus together. Thus, the exchanges with different actors of the UAM offered new insights that drove the discussions and research.

On Thursday 03.11, Oumarou Moussa (UAM) presented on the topic “Influence de l’islam sur l’abolition de l’esclavage dans les sociétés touarègues et zarma-sonay dans l’ouest du Niger depuis le 19ème siècle”. Oumarou Moussa socially classified the issue of slavery and addressed the reparation and criminalization of slavery. This was followed by the presentation of Sekou Sala Timbely (Faculté des Sciences Sociales (FASSO) de l’Université de Ségou) on “La conversion religieuse dans ses formes et motivations sur le campus universitaire de Point-G à Bamako (Mali): des formes plus classiques aux plus inédites”. Timbely presented, among others, sacred manifestations of the religious on campus, as well as profane activities, such as training, association work, personal development, organization of tutoring courses, blood and material donations, etc.

After a break, the third methodological session took place. Dr. Madore introduced the participants to different ways of online research and access to academic literature. Under the title “Recherche documentaire en ligne”, Madore went into detail about different platforms to freely access scientific articles. He further explained the different possibilities on the websites to find further literature.

In the afternoon, Veret led his second methodological training session on “Rédiger pour être publié: enjeux et défis”. Verret went into the different stages of publishing a paper in an academic journal. For example, he explained the structure of a scientific article and gave various examples to illustrate the process.

On the last day of the workshop, Friday 04.11, Dr. Ibrahim Moussa (Université André Salifou de Zinder) presented on “La présence de l’islam sur le campus de l’Université André Salifou de Zinder: entre assise et rivalités”. First, Dr. Moussa presented the history of the city and the University of Zinder, and then went on to discuss religiosity on this campus. This was followed by the final presentation of the workshop giving by Dr. Bromber under the title “Academic publishing: personal reflections on a challenging practice”. She offered personal insights into her academic career and shared her experience of publishing, the difficulties she has faced, but also solutions to have a successful publications record.

Dr. Abdoulaye Sounaye, head of the research group REMOBOKO gave some concluding remarks. According to him, in addition to campus and religion, leitmotifs were coexistence, secularity, as the works dealt with coexistence and secularity, among others. Coexistence also raises the question of space through the campus, the mosque, etc. A space where values are shared, where people meet each other, where there is imitation and competition. Also, Sounaye highlighted that the campus is also the social beyond the academic and the religious.

One can step out of religiosity to understand religiosity. This is the case of secularism when trying to analyse how it is understood by different actors. He goes on to discuss the role of actors in making religiosity visible and important on campus. Clothing, in particular, is an important example of this religiosity. There is also the question of space, morality, life (its understanding), and living conditions of students, among others. One should also look at the actors with whom students relate (teachers, university authorities, etc.). On the question of bureaucratization of religion, Sounaye noted that participants have addressed mostly religious associations, or organized religion, but religiosity is often disorganized and escapes these groups.

Besides the scientific agenda, there is a political agenda, that of going beyond English and French according to Sounaye: “It is important to mention the fact that we have been able to stay together and work together. This is also a success of REMOBOKO.”

For his part, Dr. Madore argued that the methodological training was a key element of the workshop. He also pointed out the opportunity to have brought different geographical backgrounds in contact with each other.

Dr. Moussa Talibi (enseignant-chercheur à l’UAM), who represented the Minister of Higher Education in Niger, emphasized religiosity as a sociological transformation. The transformation is not only because they are ideologically trained, but out of conformism. He stressed the importance of the workshop because it had the courage to address issues that are difficult to address. Finally, Talibi highlighted the fact that Niger faces security challenges and therefore the difficult distinction between terrorists and civilians. Thus, there is a kind of implosion in the country and the most effective weapon is education.

Le Maoulid au campus de l’UAM de Niamey (Niger) : entre festivités et expression de l’amour du Prophète

Par Bello Adamou Mahamadou

C’est dans la nuit du 21 au 22 novembre 2020 (de 21h à l’aube) que la Zawiya des Etudiants Nigériens à l’Université de Niamey (une association informelle regroupant les étudiants soufis) a célébré le Maoulid du Prophète Mohamed (PSL). Cette festivité a eu lieu près d’un mois après la date officielle de la naissance du Prophète de l’islam. Ce décalage est sciemment choisi pour permettre aux étudiants de la congrégation d’assister aux différentes célébrations organisées par les cheikhs de la ville de Niamey à des dates différentes et celles organisées par certains cheikhs des autres localités du pays. En plus des étudiants de l’université hôte et de leurs responsables syndicaux, étaient présents ceux de l’université islamique de Say, de l’école des mines, des industries et de la géologie (EMIG) de Niamey et les fidèles non scolaires venus de la ville.

L’affiche d’invitation à l’une des entrées de la cité Mala Bagalé du campus de l’UAM (Source: Auteur du texte, le 20-11-2020)

Le Maoulid, c’est la fête d’anniversaire du Prophète Mohamed (PSL). À cette occasion, les fidèles se réunissent pour lire le Coran et la biographie du Prophète. Ils lui dédient aussi des chants. Organisée chaque année, cette célébration est d’une grande importance pour les fidèles soufis de façon générale et pour les tidjanes en particulier. Elle constitue, par ailleurs, l’un des points de discorde entre les soufis et les réformistes musulmans.

La célébration du Maoulid au campus universitaire de Niamey a eu lieu dans un espace qu’on appelle « l’Arrêt des bus ». Ce jour-là, pour la circonstance, cet endroit fut décoré des photos des cheikhs Tidjanes et des versets du Coran calligraphiés sur des banderoles dès l’après-midi. Aussi, des chants en l’honneur du Prophète (waqe) résonnaient dans de grands baffles de la sonorisation. Ce qui tient lieu d’un côté d’information des pensionnaires de la cité universitaire de la tenue d’un évènement de taille et de l’autre côté cela suscite la curiosité des passants. Ce soir-là, les occupants habituels (tabliers, vendeurs d’accessoires de téléphone et les motos) de « l’Arrêt des bus » ont cédé la place aux chaises, canapés de luxe et hangars en bâches. Les chaises sont disposées en « U », ce qui a permis d’étaler de grandes nattes, dans le but d’offrir le maximum des places assises aux fidèles.

Des étudiants attendant le début des festivités (Source: Auteur du texte, le 21-11-2020)

À la tombée de la nuit, « l’Arrêt des bus » était éclairé par mille ampoules. C’est à ce moment que sont apparus les agents du service de protocole et de sécurité, les « yan-agaji ». Ce sont des vigiles volontaires, uniquement des hommes et des garçons, habillés en blanc, qu’on peut voir à des prêches ou autres manifestations religieuses des Tidjanes. Pour toute aide, les fidèles s’adressent à eux. Ce soir, ils sont placés comme pour un jalonnement de l’armée, sur toutes les voies qui débouchent à « l’Arrêt des bus ». Pour guider les fidèles au lieu de la cérémonie, ils tiennent dans leurs mains des lampes bicolores LED. C’est à eux aussi que revient la tâche d’accueillir et d’orienter les étudiants et les invités vers les places qui leur sont réservées.

Vers 21 heures, les étudiants commencent à arriver sur les lieux, en attendant l’arrivée des personnalités religieuses de marque. Habillés en tenue de fête et chapelets dans les mains pour la plupart – un jalap avec un bonnet – ils s’accueillent sourire aux lèvres. Les filles sont assises dans un angle, un peu à l’écart des rangées des hommes. Elles se cachent derrière leurs hidjabs qui couvre tout leur corps, sauf le visage. Certaines d’entre elles ont épinglé sur leurs hidjabs des images du Cheikh Ibrahim Niasse du Sénégal (guide spirituel des Tidjanes).

Il était 21 h 32 min, quand retentit la haylala mélodieusement répétée par un groupe d’étudiants. Celle-ci est la répétition de la formule de l’unicité d’Allah, qui peut être traduite en français par « il n’y a point de divinité digne d’adoration hormis Allah ». Elle est le plus souvent répétée par les soufis lors de leur culte d’adoration quotidien (le wird). Elle est aussi récitée lors des célébrations de grande importance (dont le Maoulid). Le groupe avance perçant la foule. Toute l’assistance se lève pour accueillir l’invité de marque. C’est un homme habillé d’un grand boubou blanc et un burnous noir. Il a un turban blanc sur la tête et un long chapelet dans les mains. Ses chaussures, ôtées pour ne pas marcher avec sur les nattes, sont portées par un élément d’agaji. Et c’est lui qui guide avec politesse l’illustre hôte à sa place. Une fois installé, comme pour faire allégeance, les étudiants, un à un ou par groupes, partent le saluer. Je chuchote pour demander à un étudiant l’identité de cet invité. Il me répond avec un ton plein d’admiration, que « c’est le Cheikh Barhama, l’une des personnalités soufies les plus respectées de la ville de Niamey ». « Cheikh » est le plus grand titre auquel puisse aspirer un leader soufi. Cette scène d’accueil-installation est répétée à chaque fois qu’arrive un cheikh, qui sont environ une dizaine. Au nombre de ces invités de marque, on peut citer les cheikhs de la ville de Niamey (Cheikh Malam Habib, Cheikh Moussa Souleymane, Cheikh Maki), un Cheikh de Zinder et ceux venus des villes nigérianes de Kano, de Makurdi et de Kampa. Parmi les étrangers, il y avait un Charifi (descendant de la famille du Prophète) et le Khalifa (remplaçant ou successeur) de Fadar Bégué (un chanteur nigérian réputé dans les waqe) décédé il y a quelques années.

Le Président de la zawiya présentant ses mots de bienvenue les fidèles (Source: Auteur du texte, le 21-11-2020)

Après l’installation des invités, le président de la zawiya a pris la parole en premier pour souhaiter la bienvenue aux participants, avant d’adresser des remerciements spéciaux aux Cheikhs pour avoir honoré de leur présence la cérémonie. Puis, il a invité les étudiants à écouter avec attentions les différents prêches. Les interventions des cheikhs ont porté sur la vie du Prophète, l’importance du Maoulid en islam et les leçons à tirer de la vie du Prophète Mohamed (PSL). Chacun en fonction de son expérience a abordé un thème qu’il juge important pour la circonstance.

Les étudiants, eux, ont agrémenté la nuit avec des chants religieux (diwani). Ils se mettent en cercle pour chanter les louanges du Prophète et faire la haylala. L’assistance répète souvent avec eux dans un ton harmonieux. Touchés par les sens des chants qu’ils entonnent, certains étudiants se tapent la poitrine pour se galvaniser. Certains participants les encouragent en les gratifiant des billets de banque. Un temps fut aussi accordé aux étudiantes pour prester. Une d’entre elles, assise depuis sa chaise, chante les louanges du Prophète Mohamed en langue hausa dans une voix qui a conquis l’assistance. Elle fut accompagnée par deux de ses consœurs. L’une, émue par le sens des mots, pleura dans son chant. Il a fallu que le micro lui soit retiré. Il fut, par la suite, passé à une autre étudiante qui a chanté sur l’importance de la lecture du Coran. Elle aussi fut emportée par la même émotion que la première.

Les leaders religieux tidjanes ayant pris suivant l’intervention de l’un de leurs (Source: Auteur du texte, le 21-11-2020)

Durant la veillée, les étudiants partent un à un ou par groupes restreints auprès des différents cheikhs ou du Charifi pour avoir leur bénédiction. Ôtant les chaussures et leurs bonnets en signe de respect, ils s’accroupissent devant eux en les saluant. En guise de reconnaissance, les cheikhs leur demandent de se relever. Ensemble, ils font une fatiha (prière) les paumes ouvertes au ciel. Ils retournent ensuite vers leurs camarades tous souriants. J’étais surpris de voir le respect que ces étudiants fidèles manifestaient à leurs leaders religieux et surtout au Charifi. Je ne cesse de me demander comment est-ce qu’un Nigérian de peau noire et n’ayant aucun trait morphologique d’Arabe, peut être descendant de la famille du Prophète Mohamed. J’ai posé cette question aux étudiants qui se trouvaient à côté de moi pour lever le doute. Selon eux, la généalogie remonte à la famille d’Ali, le cousin du Prophète et son quatrième calife. En effet, cette famille, à un moment de l’histoire, a migré de l’Arabie vers l’Égypte fuyant les persécutions. À travers les mariages avec les communautés locales, ses membres se seraient éparpillés à travers l’Afrique du Nord et de l’Ouest. C’est ainsi que certains membres se sont retrouvés au Nigéria.

Avant de quitter, à la demande des étudiants, le Cheikh Maki renouvèle symboliquement le vœu d’adhésion des étudiants à la tariqa-tidjaniya. Il a également « donné » symboliquement cette tariqa à ceux qui aspirent y adhérer. Ils étaient des dizaines à s’accroupir devant lui pour recevoir l’adhésion ou son renouvellement. Il a quitté en laissant derrière lui des étudiants dont la foi est raffermie par cette bénédiction. Ils étaient nombreux à manifester leur joie et satisfaction après cet acte symbolique. Je n’ai pas pu contenir mon étonnement face à cela. J’étais surpris de voir des étudiants qui, après les propos du cheikh, se félicitent mutuellement « barka, barka ! », comme s’ils sont admis à un examen académique. Ceci m’a donné l’occasion de mesurer combien cette adhésion est importante pour ces étudiants.

Le président de la zawiya, premier à gauche, à côté du Cheick Barhama de Niamey et de deux autres fidèles (Source: Auteur du texte, le 21-11-2020)

Vers 3 h du matin, il est servi à manger aux participants ce qui a permis de faire le plein d’énergie pour la suite de la veillée. Elle se poursuit par la lecture et traduction du livre « Faydoul ahmadi » écrit par Ibrahim Niasse, le Sénégalais. Il est lu en arabe par le président de l’association et traduit en hausa par le Cheikh de Zinder. À l’annonce de l’heure de la prière de l’aube, les étudiants ont renouvelé leurs ablutions rituelles pour la prière. Cette dernière fut dirigée par le Cheikh de Zinder.

C’est ainsi qu’a pris fin la célébration du Maoulid de 2020, organisée par la Zawiya des étudiants de l’Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey. Ils se sont dispersés dans la satisfaction, la joie au cœur avec l’espoir de revivre une telle expérience l’année prochaine. La présente célébration est ma première expérience après plusieurs années de vie à l’université et de rupture avec mon background familial. J’ai en effet grandi dans une famille Tidjane. Je participais à ce genre de célébrations avec mes frères, mes amis et mes parents. Mais avec le temps, j’ai arrêté de participer, après avoir pris une autre voie : le salafisme qui condamne une telle festivité. C’est pourquoi cette rencontre m’a rappelé mes souvenirs d’enfance lorsque nous assistions au Maoulid avec ses amis.

“Apprendre à lire le Coran en 12 séances” : les étudiants de l’Université Abdou Moumouni à la quête du savoir religieux

Bello Adamou, Mahamadou and Amadou Oumarou. ‘“Apprendre à lire le Coran en 12 séances” : les étudiants de l’Université Abdou Moumouni à la quête du savoir religieux’. Revue Nigérienne des Sciences Sociales (RENISS), no. 5 (2022): 21–33.

Abstract

L’Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey (UAM), marquée au début de sa création dans les années 1970 par les idéologies marxistes-léninistes, connait depuis la fin des années 1980 une montée des pratiques religieuses estudiantines organisées par des associations religieuses estudiantines chrétiennes et musulmanes. Basée sur une approche qualitative combinant des entretiens semi-directifs et des observations directes et indirectes, cet article s’intéresse, d’une part, à la mise en place des associations religieuses d’étudiants salafis, évangélique et pentecôtistes dans cette université. Et d’autre part, il analyse l’affirmation de l’identité religieuse par ces étudiants à travers : la diffusion de l’enseignement religieux, les écoles coraniques et les études bibliques. Ceci donne à la religiosité une grande importance auprès des étudiants qui y prennent part.

REMOBOKO at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

In this workshop, explicitly designed for doctoral candidates and postdocs, the Remoboko research team will present its work, and discuss the methodological difficulties associated with researching a sensitive topic from an ethnographic perspective. Finally, members of the team discuss the challenges of completing their PhDs within a research project.

Presentations

“The innocent spy who came in from the cold: Fieldwork in the Sahel and self-reflexivity”, Vincent Favier

Vincent Favier did a presentation entitled: “The Innocent Spy Who Came in from the Cold: Fieldwork in the Sahel and Self-reflexivity”. Beside the nod to the climatic dimension due to frequent travel between Germany and Niger, this title refers to the conditions and experience of doing Fieldwork in the Sahel from 2019 to 2021. Inspired by Nigel Barley’s “The Innocent Anthropologist”, his presentation outlined the challenges faced by the researcher as a French and non-Muslim in a former French colony dominated by Islam. Balancing between linguistic and academic affinities and forms of political distrust, or even faith-based contempt, Vincent explained how doing fieldwork in such a social environment requires to be strategic, patient, and diplomatic. This particular setting also enables the researcher to reflect on himself, on the individuals and groups he looks at, but, more importantly, on the way these individuals perceive him and the significance of his research project. In an unstable regional context due to terror attacks, French military intervention, coups, accusations of state corruption, and disinformation, being perceived as a spy is anything but surprising, especially when one comes from abroad to ask questions. Self-reflexivity is thus a crucial dimension of research, in any context, not only to assess the epistemological biases but also to gradually break down clichés and engage in mutual understanding.

“Being a Muslim and a researcher: conducting research in a context of religious competition”, Bello Adamou

Bello Adamou presented the topic : Being a Muslim and a researcher: conducting research in a context of religious competition. He began his presentation by discussing his religious identity and his associative background within one of the Muslim Students Association of Niger, section of the Abdou Moumouni University of Niamey. Being Muslim, he participated several times in the activities of this association without however occupying a position of responsibility or integrating one of the commissions, during his cycles of Licence and Master. Thus, he mentioned the influence of his research on his religious identity because it requires him to analyze the different groups with the neutrality that scientific research requires. Then, he mentioned the different reactions of religious groups on his research. While Christians and Sufis accepted him without resistance, the Salafis perceived him as a spy on the payroll of the outside world. However, over time the latter group came to accept him as a researcher. Finally, Bello reported attempts by student religious groups to influence his research as they perceived him as a mouthpiece for their activities on campus through his scientific publications.

“A “Yovo” Historian in Benin and Togo: Conducting Fieldwork in Times of Pandemic and Fears of Jihadism Spreading”, Dr. Frederick Madore

Frédérick Madore did a presentation entitled “A ‘Yovo’ Historian in Benin and Togo: Conducting Fieldwork in Times of Pandemic and Fears of Jihadism Spreading”. In the first part of his talk, he offered some thoughts on conducting ethnographic fieldwork as a historian by training. Although a lot of textbooks exist on ethnographic fieldwork, the “field” often presents unexpected challenges, and the research must deal with many gray areas. He also addressed the issue of positionality and reflected on how being a foreigner or a “pseudo-insider” as well as making friends in the field impact the research findings. In the second section, Frédérick Madore gave an overview of the difficulties of doing research in insecure regions – “red zones” –, and how the security context in West Africa can influence the research on Salafism. For instance, many journalists and commentators, in assessing the threat that jihadists pose to countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea, such as Benin and Togo, have pointed out the spread of Salafism and Saudi Arabian-funded NGOs in the region. As a result, a growing number of Salafis are reluctant to talk to researchers and building trust can be a challenge. Finally, he highlighted the difficulties of conducting research in post-colonial archival centers in West Africa, which are often underfunded and disorganized. Historians of contemporary Africa must make do with less written material and usually must rely on oral sources.

“‘Who is your father? What family do you belong to?’ and ‘Patience, I’ll call you back!’: Researching Islam and Muslim Life in Contemporary Sahel”, Dr. Abdoulaye Sounaye

In a region such as the Sahel where Salafi-jihadism has become highly politicized, from below and above, from within and without, what are the challenges of conducting research on Islam and Muslim societies? How to deal with ethnographic discomfort and security concerns? What to draw from those constraints, but also opportunities to engage other dimensions of the work of academic knowledge production? What to learn from the actual contexts and the dynamics that shape it? How to make research and academic collaboration work? These questions were at the core of the public lecture (“Who is your father? What family do you belong to?” and “Patience, I’ll call you back!”: Researching Islam and Muslim Life in Contemporary Sahel) Abdoulaye Sounaye gave on June 13, 2022 at the Department of Anthropology of the University of Halle. Building on his two decade-long experience conducting fieldwork in the region, the lecture was an opportunity to open a conversation on the constraints and forms of social control that field researchers have to deal with, especially when “working at home.” The conditions of ethnographic research on Islam and Muslim societies in the Sahel were discussed, highlighting some of the challenges and the problematic nature of such methodological orientation today. The lecture also drew attention to both ethical and episte­mological concerns, especially with regard to the sensitivity of “Islamic” topics, how researchers (are and) become subject to social control, navigate the “non-sense” of research, and become constitutive of the field.

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