It is estimated that 85 per cent of Niger's population are Moslems, and in this the last month of the Islamic year, children in the Moslem schools were learning about the annual pilgrimage of the faithful to Mecca, and the following "Great Festival" of Id El-Kabir.
GV ZOOM IN TO MV and CU children repeating lesson form Koran after teacher (2 shots)
Mvs & CU Children repeating words of Koran (4 shots)
SCU & CU Child reading text form tablet and CU Text
MV Teacher addressing children
GV & MV People praying at sunset
MV & CU Van with inscription "Dieu merci"
GV & SCU sign on building "El Hadj etc" (2 shots)
CU & SCU Kettles and baggage of pilgrims (4 shots)
GV PAN people seated at airport (2 shots)
CU Air Afrique label "Pilgrimage To Mecca"
CU TILT UP pilgrim washing hands
GV Pilgrims seated
Initials OS/1502 OS/1457
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Background: It is estimated that 85 per cent of Niger's population are Moslems, and in this the last month of the Islamic year, children in the Moslem schools were learning about the annual pilgrimage of the faithful to Mecca, and the following "Great Festival" of Id El-Kabir.
Over fourteen-hundred pilgrims this year are reported to be making the journey to Saudi Arabia, increase of 337 on last year.
SYNOPSIS: In a Muslim school in Niamey, the Niger capital, children repeat lessons form the Koran, Holy book of Islam, a book which will have a profound influence in their lives. It is estimated that 85 per cent of Niger's people are Moslem, and in this, the last Month of the Islamic year, the children in the Muslim schools will be learning about the pilgrimage to Mecca, carried out at this time by devout Moslems. They will be taking part soon after the pilgrimage also in the "great Festival" of the Islamic year, Id El-Kabir, a three-day Festival of sacrifice which involves the whole Islamic world.
But the pilgrimage to Mecca remains to the outsider one of the most moving manifestations of the continuing strength of Islam. Each devout Muslim, whatever his status, feels obliged to make this religious journey once in his life, though the journey amy be many hundreds of miles from the interior of Africa.
And when he comes back, he will he among those bearing the tile, "El Hadj", or pilgrim, who has done the journey to the birthplace of Mohammed.
In Niamey, the signs of the exodus have been everywhere as the pilgrims set out overland or by air. Last year an estimated 1082 pilgrims went to Mecca from Niger, this year there will be 337 more. The number goes up every year, involving increasing numbers in the difficulties of obtaining transport of on kind or another, the waiting, and the administrative formalities. And there will be more privations for them when they reach Mecca, the best-known city of Saudi Arabia. More than fifty thousand pilgrims had arrived in that country by January the first, according to official figures, and thousands more were to follow in the next weeks. the pilgrims will end their stay by giving thanks at the village of Mina, and Muslims everywhere will celebrate Id El-Kabir.