Ordinary childhoods and everyday Islamic practices of protection and care in Zanzibar

by Franziska Fay

01 Jun 2022
Journal of the British Academy
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Number of pages
23 (pp. 175-197)

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Abstract: In Zanzibar, religiously framed practices impact children’s socialisation. Many actions that frame Zanzibari children’s everyday lives—from birth rituals, to poetry recitation, to formal education—are closely tied to Islam. With ninety-nine percent of Zanzibaris identifying as Muslim, this sense of identity is fostered and transmitted from when a child is born. This article explores how conceptions of the ‘everyday’ and the ‘ordinary’ reflect in early socialisation practices that address Muslim Zanzibari children’s lives, centrally by drawing on knowledge published in three booklets on Islam and child rearing acquired in Zanzibar Town in 2014 and 2021. It thereby shows how religious practices co-construct childhoods and underlines the need to pay attention to less extraordinary aspects and meanings of how being young and pious in contemporary African settings are made.

Keywords: Childhood, Islam, socialisation, everyday, protection, care, Zanzibar.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 2 (Searching for the Everyday in African Childhoods).

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