The generation threat

The Bijagós are an animist, matrilineal society organized in classes linked to age.

The young need to provide for the elders in order to guarantee their own retirement later on. In exchange, the elders transmit their experience and knowledge, bit by bit, over many years and phases of initiations. Their life philosophy is based on the interdependence between young and old.

However, a terrible threat is now hanging over the Bijagós' future. The outside world is closing down on them, luring the young to Christian churches and a world of money, away from their community, threatening their equilibrium. By giving up traditions, the youth break up the Bijagós' well adjusted cycle. Opting to go away means no longer working the land or fishing and turning dependent on money to feed the family. It is a very risky move in a country which is listed as one of the poorest in the world. Building schools and discos is not enough to retain the youth on the island, let alone in the village.


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