Mahamadou Saidou, october 2015 (Photo by Abdoul Aziz Soumaïla)

Mahamadou Saidou was born ‘circa 1952’ in Dogon-Doutchi, Niger, within the large Kwanana family. He had nineteen brothers and sisters, but not all ‘same father same mother’ since his father was polygamous. After attending primary school in the Dogon-Doutchi ‘Mission School’, he attended high school and graduated in mathematics and science. He went to the Science College in Niamey but did not complete his studies there and taught in middle school.

He got in touch with the Institute of Research in Mathematics Teaching (IREM) in Niamey, and in 1982 took part in the decentralized workshops organized by the IREM in Zinder, as a counsellor.

Mahamadou resumed his studies at the Teaching College; after graduating he taught in a middle-school in Niamey. He was also involved in the IREM and regularly joined training sessions in France, within the Rennes IREM (bilateral exchanges are funded). After his father’s death, on December 22nd 1986, he became head of the family, ‘mai-guida’, and returned to Dogon-Doutchi to re-organize his family. That responsibility led him to pay for his numerous brothers and sisters’ schooling fees. By then he had been married for several years to Philomène who was to be his only wife, they didn’t have children but adopted several according to local custom.

Back in Niamey, he joined the Sovereign National Conference which re-instated democracy. He joined the civil society representatives, as president of the Nigerien Association of Mathematical Games. His commitment to PNDS (Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism) dated back from that time.

Mahamadou planned to complete his studies but couldn’t find a suitable framework. A former director of the Rennes IREM, then director of IUFM (Teacher Training College) offered to host him. French friends financed the rest: flight, expenses. While he is training, his teacher salary is maintained in Niger, which enables him to support his family and even keep saving. He had his house built in Tallagué at that time.

Three years devoted to studying enabled him to pass a degree, Master and a diploma in Education Sciences, in Rennes 2 University. Meanwhile, thanks to the numerous friends he made everywhere, the Tarbiyya-Tatali project of a Franco-Nigerien network developed. Associations in Niger and in France work together for the Nigerien people’s self-development. Their work is based on mutual respect, friendship and cultural exchanges.

Mahmadou then returned to Niger, where he was a teaching counsellor at INDRAP (National Institute of Resources, Research and Teaching Support) until he retired, aged 55. At that time he created RAEDD (Network of Educational Actions for a Sustained Development), which he coordinated until his death in 2016. In France, François Hébert founded AECIN (Ille-et-Vilaine Niger Association for Cultural Exchanges) which would later be presided by Yvon Logeat, Marie-Françoise Roy, Tifenn Leclercq, Michel Coste and Alice Belliot.

Tarbiyya Tatali’s first project, buying primary school books to let out on loan, amounts to CFA 350 000,( about 500 euros), from AECIN’s own funds. Since then, RAEDD has been expanding and has developed a great many partnerships with embassies, main NGO’s …); its annual budget is presently around 250 000 euros.

Mahamadou also played a very active part in the PNDS, particularly during the presidential election campaign. President Mahamadou Issoufou’s access to power in 2011 led to Mahamadou’s promotion to the high responsibility of director of the office of the Minister of National Education, Literacy and National Languages Promotion.

His was a remarkable career, spanning three fields: administrative, political and NGO responsibilities.

But his many duties (Ministry Director, co-ordinator of RAEDD, political action) exhausted him. In November 2015 he attended Sarkin Arewa’s funeral and collapsed, a stroke was mentioned. He was admitted to hospital, sent back home, twice flown to hospital in Morocco, taken back to hospital… According to Doctor Sieyeba, his sister: ‘No diagnosis was ever made’. He died in hospital in Niamey on August 6th 2016.

Since then, Tarbiyya Tatali has received numerous messages of sympathy, expressing great sadness and loss. Many laudatory testimonies of Mahamadou Saïdou’s indefatigable energy, his keen intelligence, his cheerfulness, his devotion, patience, listening skill. In France as well as in Niger, the members of Tarbiyya Tatali are more than ever devoted to pursue the works of that exceptional man.

Mahamadou Saidou, coordinateur de Tarbiyya Tatali au Niger (1952-2016)