IMAM Sekou Sylla MAN SERVING THE MUSLIM Jenesse
On returning from Saudi Arabia after the end of our studies leading to a Bachelor of Science (animal biology) Sekou Sylla had the possibility of joining the public service or the private sector. But he preferred to entirely devoted to the supervision of students and Muslim students. Without pay, without premium without means and without clear career path he began his mission with passion and enthusiasm selflessness. He never wanted to leave the boat destitute and deprived of its students faithful. Bare hands, empty pockets, he fought against all odds to keep pupils and students in the right path of Islam and their academic success.Methodical and sharp on time, he gave to students not only the desire to learn and understand Islam but also the love of community work. Despite his thirty years with young pupils and students, the Imam Sekou Sylla has always remained attached to his young followers whose first are now top executives in the private and in public administration.
So it’s no coincidence that it also continues to enjoy today the full confidence of Cheick Ahima a great visionary who has also just played a decisive role in his training in Saudi Arabia. The dream of Imam Sekou Sylla is now seeing the AEEMCI be helped financially by its former members. Because there is so much to do even for younger students and Muslim students from Ivory Coast.
The AEEMCI 40 years. If one can speak rightly of the mother Muslim associations, we can say that it is the AEEMCI.
If we can also say that Cheick AHIMA is the father of modern Islam in Ivory Coast, one must also say that the first son of Cheick AHIMA is indeed the AEEMCI. One and the other gave the Ivory Coast all the assets necessary for the construction of a modern Islam in a secular state, multi-religious, multi-ethnic and democratic.
This duo is also the foundation on which is founded the West African Islamic Cooperation, with a human and peaceful Islam. Finally, this base was essential to a share in the decomplexification process of the Ivorian and West African Muslim elite, and secondly by giving assurance to parents that the traditionalist French school is not necessarily an anti-Islamic hallway.
Thus, with half a century of activity in the service of the Ivorian and African Islam, we can only thank the Almighty for having gratified us of the presence of this duo, Cheick AHIMA and AEEMCI.
Interviews with the Imam of the AEEMCI
The AEEMCI 40 years. Created in pain and mistrust of the authorities of the time, she ended up being admitted, and even impose its seriousness and its results. Better it is one of the few organizations which alternation in governance was seen regularly and resolutely. She gave the Muslim community of available and experienced facilitators. She gave the Ivory Coast qualified executives. It inspired in West Africa youth organizations and asset managers in the service of Islam, Muslims and society.
In short, without great means, the AEEMCI demonstrated throughout his 40 years than any human enterprise which is to be sustainable in time and space, it takes vision and visionaries. Here in this exclusive interview, the first Imam of the AEEMCI, Imam Sekou Sylla graduated in biology from the University of King Abdul Aziz in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), gives us his exclusive testimony of an association that oversees for over thirty years.
Since when are you the Imam AEEMCI?
Since the return of our studies in Saudi Arabia in 1988, we were named from Students to ensure the Imam function.
You yourself have been a member of the AEEMCI. In what year and where?
During our school years we have been a member of the AEEMCI. Since high school and about during our university here in Ivory Coast. We were ourselves treasurer to AEEMCI and there were other positions. Since returning from Saudi Arabia as I said earlier we ensure the Imam according to students.
What are the features of an Imam of AEEMCI?
I do not know if there is a peculiarity in truth, however, I could say that in my case I had the advantage of practicing this structure before being Imam, so I knew the inside of the house. Myself I was a student so I have an idea about the need for a student, especially with regard to Islam and for the organization of Islam. If there is one feature I could say that is the fact of knowing that environment and being a member of the AEEMCI. This allows us to be at the same level from the perspective of the organization and especially the knowledge of the students’ problems.
The student environment is a very complex and sometimes violent environment, how did you work in such conditions?
It is true we say that the student environment is violent, especially at certain times of the history of our country. But what I can tell, since 88 years we have been with our Muslim students, we were satisfied with their behavior to the extent that we never noticed their level of violence, on the contrary they were very away from this violence in academia and the time we never noticed road exit from our Muslim students. So I can say that it is true that there has been violence in academia but from the side of the AEEMCI with over 400 sections, to date there has not been slippages. Only that Muslim students are demanding 2 to 3 days for parties of Tabaski and Ramadan, which I find quite legitimate and so far there are no answers to this level.
How Imamate is organized in the mosques of AEEMCI and how many Imams and mosque there he has?
I could say at first we focused on university campuses where there was a need for Imam because already when you take the city of mermoz, or the city of the campus or of Abobo etc. … until Vridi. These are places where you have a significant number of students who were not able to come to the only mosque AEEMCI.This has created the need to decentralize the various Friday prayers is that as well as we outsourced I would say our Friday prayers in each dormitory. After that we were a little further, in high schools. When you take the holy high school married today we do the Friday prayers, the grammar school as the Technical High School and other high schools have their place today Friday prayers and that’s what allows us to do closer supervision of students. That is why we continue to focus on this aspect. Whenever there is a possibility of getting a place of prayer for our young pupils and students we take the necessary steps to fill it happen.Obviously Imams are for the most part of volunteers’ time, because as you know the Imamate in general throughout Africa and is not something that is always paid. But here we have volunteers and ourselves we have nearly 10 years counting on God and our own resources and increasingly there is good will to support and help. Generally these Imams are young students themselves who are supervised and have made an effort from the viewpoint of knowledge of Islam and we encadrons time to time during what we called the forum imams of AEEMCI. These are young people we often encadrons and doing a great job at their level.This is what is done until we speak to you.
Is what we can say today that all of our schools are covered?
Yes the majority. However there was still a problem during renovations of university cities, the heart of these approaches where this has led many to disappear unfortunately mosque. We are currently reviewing spite of this situation, how to frame our young people across cities, schools and others.
Since your appointment as Imam of the AEEMCI what are the things of which you are proud?
I could say the general understanding of Islam in the student world. The young Muslim today is not complexed to practice his faith. I remember very well our level when we were still students we often hid to pray. But by the grace of God today with the advent of AEEMCI one is no longer complexed to its school-Islamic identity. That is very important to the extent that our parents refused before sending the kids to school called the school white. They said that students were not praying, they would no longer be Muslims.Today it is with pride that we say that the practice of Islam in this environment is even better than in the circles I would say natural. We have a practice of Islam really very encouraging towards Muslim students students from Ivory Coast.
As we say no human work is perfect, therefore they are the weaknesses of the AEEMCI?
I would say around the means. You know the student is not the one who has the means and that is what makes each activity under God, one has recourse to people. You noticed, moreover, that generally for each activity we seek a sponsor. Sponsorship is a way to find someone to fund our operations. So the main problem is primarily financial and other means. If you take a structure like AEEMCI with all its sections to travel the country there is not even a vehicle to do so. Then as for those who travel the country for these activities there is no budget. They get along with coaches, and donations. While this is primarily a problem of resources. Second, another big problem of this structure today is the inclusion in the socio-economic fabric.In fact we have many young people who have finished studies and have employment problems, not least as the first. That is one of the major problems that the structure knows, this is also a problem that the entire Ivorian youth knows. Then there is the problem of continuing education. As with everything we know today as the Islamic movement, there is need to frame our youth at all times. Finally volunteering has its limits. For all this work at the student is volunteering. We must not only find people who are willing to do it but with a minimum of means in order to meet their daily needs.
Many young pupils and students you have formed spiritually today are senior executives in government and the private sector, they are worthy of your teaching?
That’s another source of pride for us. Because I do not need to name names, to be modest. However in the country today, the highest level of the republic we have products of our structure and they make us proud, we have directors of firms, heads of offices, large members of the military and also we have great managers who have been members of this structure which we are all proud. Because certainly be a framework that is anything but an honest framework we do not find every day. Those by the grace of God we can count on them. They honor to Islam, the community and the country.
What do these frameworks to their younger brothers of AEEMCI today?
As far as this bit, they bring what they can but it is not enough. For it is God alone who can give every day. A man, if he gave once, twice, at one point he faltered. So his brothers found themselves in the structure called 3A (the Friendly of Old of AEEMCI) and bring all their assistance in their way. It relieves occasionally their younger brothers.
Today many executives and students receive lessons on social networks and internet, how to Iman, you’re behaves with that strong competition?
The first thing is to first know ourselves these circuits of social networks, that is to say, the internet tool. You have to go ourselves to learning and then as I said this is especially strengthen our management team. This needs a lot of human and resources. There is a lot to do with little means. I can tell you that this year was also called the seminar broke, it almost in all regions of the country. Which allows to be closer to the pupils and students to offset this training we have here and there across these social networks. It certainly is not easy, however we do what we can in the matter.
So for these 40 years of AEEMCI do you have a final message? For members, the Ivorian population etc …?
I will first appeal to the entire Muslim community to encourage these young people and support them. They have lots of ideas, lots of ambitions but are limited by the means of course. So this is a call to assist these young people at any time. This is one of the few structures that has a known work plan since the beginning of the year and try to run it. But they are still hampered by the means. Personally today our role is to try every time, at every opportunity to see who can help us and assist us in this work, in terms of resources and help them enter after graduation. For I am often pained even the young spend their time not only in school but in Islamic activities and after school, we have nothing more to offer them. It is with sorrow that I see such cases every year. We launch an appeal to the community to provide help to insert these young people into the economy and help us then obviously the infrastructure point of view. Often we land as Korhogo and other, but we have a lack of funds to build mosques. A few times we have good intentions. Lately someone has reached us over 4 million in order to do a mosque in a high school and this is good wills like that we need at all times to be able to help this structure. In most Islamic structures in Ivory Coast if we find a better structure is the AEEMCI. Everyone did his little way inside this structure, and it is imbued with these qualities that these young people were able to give here and there at the Muslim Youth Association of Ivory Coast, I would say even Islamic league of Ivory Coast Preachers and maybe even some Imams. All that to say that we need to support them and help them in their work.