We have all heard of Almajiri or seen them, for those who have lived in Northern Nigeria.
They are the boys often affiliated with Quranic schools. For lack of better opportunities, these parents hand over their children to the Mallams who run these schools. The Mallams in turn make these boys into beggars, subjecting them to kidnaps, sexual abuse, and even more recently, mules to be manipulated for wearing suicide vests.
Someone in Senegal is trying to change this story, and he’s doing it with video games.
Meet Ousseynou Khadim Bèye, a Senegalese indie games developer.
In Senegal, Almajiris are called enfant talibé, but the story stays the same.
In the mobile game, Cross Dakar City, which is available for Android and iOS, the child is navigated by the player to cross streets with the ultimate goal of returning home. He has to cross six levels of speeding vehicles, trains, bombs, and even rivers to reach home.
Even though Senegal has outlawed this practice, there is little done to enforce. Perhaps Nigeria too can completely outlaw this demeaning practice and give these boys a better story.
The game has gained popularity, garnering over 36,000 views already. But Ousseynou is not satisfied just yet. He told Motherboard Vice:
Ultimately, I want to partner with non-profit organizations and make more games on themes like solar energy and deforestation that make people more aware of how these issues are affecting communities in Africa.