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Darwin Under Attack in Yembering

By Prodenbough
I awoke one morning in Yembering to the blaring sound of a loudspeaker.
Not directly in my ear, of course, but it was so loud that it might as well have been. In fact it was coming from the community-center/mayor's-office/nightclub/soccer-field-bleachers across the way from the school grounds. It sounded kind of like the mosque's familiar call to prayer, but not quite. It was creating quite a spectacle in Yembering, and a crowd was gathering outside the building. The loudspeaker continued its crackly, incomprehensible singing throughout the day. I eventually decided to investigate.
I was greeted at the door, and I explained that I was a just a curious foreigner who would like to know what was going on. A man with glasses came and sat me down and started explaining to me. It turns out that a traveling Marabout (traditional/Islamic healer) had come on market day, and was staying a few days to offer his services. The man with the glasses was a sort of spokesperson for the healer, who was done healing for the day and was too important to speak with curious foreigners directly, I suppose. The man with the glasses explained that if someone is spiritually sick, he can come to the healer, and the healer will pray for him, and he will "tomber en crise," and then the sickness will be cured. "Tomber en crise" translates directly from French as "to fall in crisis," but that doesn't quite capture the nuance of how the phrase is used in this context. I think it has something to do with a fit of religious ecstasy. Or something.
The traveling healing show was pretty well-equipped. It seemed to have brought its own generators and speakers, as well as literature/media (all in French), which the man with the glasses gladly gave to me. One pamphlet he gave me was entitled What is Islam? He also gave me two CDs, which I suspect contain interesting video, although I have no way of playing them, even in Labe. In any case, the CDs are entitled Djinns and Sorcerers, and Marabouts and Sorcerers: Satanism under the cover of religion: testimonials from Djinns. Printed on the CDs are links to http://benhalimaabderraouf.com/ and http://benhalimaabderraouf.free.fr/.
But the most interesting thing he gave me was a pamphlet entitled: The Theory of Darwin: The Impossible Randomness: The theory of evolution of living beings, analysed by a believer, written by Keskas Mohammed, who claims to be a biology teacher.
The pamphlet starts off: "Why, today, do certain people continue to defend the idea that we descended from monkeys, or that we are the cousins of monkeys?... When someone accepts that he is descended from a monkey, that means that he is only an animal like the others that populate this planet. He can then permit himself to commit all sorts of abominations: rape, incest, other crimes... he thinks that it's ok because he is only an animal responding to his instinct! So, this theory, for someone who accepts it, is an excuse to follow his craziest desires."
I'm not going to touch that. I'll just put it out there.
And it babbles on so forth for quite a few pages. But the most interesting bit, I find, is the following paragraph: "I will give you an image so that you can better understand. One evening, a knight waits under the palace balcony of a princess. When his beloved princess appears at the balcony, she throws a stone towards the knight to get his attention. The knight picks up the stone and busies himself observing it intently. What strange behavior, you would surely say to me! Instead of looking up to see where the stone came from, and who threw it, the knight fixes his attention on the inert object, the stone itself! In fact, people are acting like this knight. They spend their time studying the creations around them... [when they should be studying God]..."
Thanks, Marabout. That's just what this community needs. Kids need to abandon their science classes and go study the Koran some more.
There are, by the way, more mosques in Yembering than schools. Everyone here is muslim. Everyone here prays five times per day. Everyone goes to mosque. No one has heard of anything other than Islam or Christianity (let alone my atheism). Everyone responds to the parting phrase "see you later" by saying "si allah jabi," meaning "if God is willing." In Yembering, God is clearly in control. But PRAY! the Marabout insists.
And while we're praying, let's hunt some witches.http://www.france24.com/en/20110505-village-witch-hunt-triggers-deadly-violence-guinea-conakry#http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hyUoMhyQDg8I9tRNiSd_udLuLv4A?docId=CNG.854889179a7ec590cda41e5232f39aed.701
It's easy for me and my atheist inclinations to want to say that this is bad. Sometimes I just want to rant. To say to my community: stop spending so much time at the mosque and come to school once in a while. God won't pave the road between here and Labe. God won't bring you electricity and running water and computers and all the things you say you want. You have to study! The answers aren't in the Koran or the Bible, they're in education! In math and science and reading and writing! With a solid education, a sound sense of scientific reasoning, and lots of hard work, you can achieve all these things for yourself! *shakes cheerleading pom-poms* Now pay attention to my chemistry lesson!
Reality check (for my idealistic ranting): university graduates come back home to Yembering and work harvesting the field because there are no jobs for them. The high school in Yembering is too dysfunctional to offer a complete program of study, which means that for many of my 11th grade students whose families don't have the means to send them to Labe to finish high school, this is the end of the road for them. Their education is over. And the other day I started noticing the irregular bald patches of the heads of my 8th grade students. These students are losing their hair due to malnutrition.
So yes, Marabout. Come to my village and attack Darwin and science. Tell them instead to pray. If I had to graduate college only to work in a field, or if I couldn't graduate high school because my family was poor, or if I was in 8th grade and balding because my family couldn't feed me properly, I might be more inclined to pray, too.

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