Nigerian filmmaker explores ‘Almajiri’ issue in tell-all documentary

A documentary that tells the stories of children in the Almajiri system, has been released by Nigerian filmmaker, Adeyeye Olatokunbo.

Almajiri is a system of Islamic education practiced in northern Nigeria. Almajiri means a person who leaves his home in search of Islamic knowledge.

The ‘Almajiri’ system is popularly associated with kids begging on the streets in many Northern Nigerian states.

In an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday, Olatokunbo said that he was moved to make the documentary because he was uncomfortable with the state of the children.

The film called ‘Born Unlucky: The Almajiri System’ follows the story of a real life Almajiri child who opens up about his life and the conditions under which he lives.

The documentary also featured a mallam and Islamic scholars who explained the religious undertone of the system.

Olatokunbo, a graduate of the University of Lagos, said that the idea to make the film came during his youth service year in Kano.

He said, “When I got my call up letter, I found out I was posted to Kano. Like every southerner, I was concerned with security.

“The belief that the North is insecure is of course fueled by reports from the media. Contrary to this belief, the North is peaceful.

“It was really easy to notice some children, looking unkempt and unfed litter the street. Anyone who has visited the north could attest to this fact.

“They call them Almajiri. Almajiri is from an Arabic word, “al-Muhajirun”, meaning a person who leaves his home in search of Islamic knowledge, most times under a Mallam.

“At first, I ignored them. After few months in Kano state, I became uncomfortable with the system. Almost everywhere I go, has these children. I began to ask questions,” he added.

According to Olatokunbo, it was important to tell these stories as they will help draw global attention and provide lasting solutions to the issues.

He said, “These stories need to be told. The world need to hear them. My team and I were faced with numerous challenges while filming this documentary but this was our motivation.”