Senegal, a brief introduction

This article is also available in: Italiano

A first introduction to one of the most varied and interesting countries in Africa, still today a land capable of surprising for history and beauty.

Rise and Fall of the Jolof Empire

Historically linked to the sea and rivers, Senegal has been inhabited since prehistoric times, however, the first noteworthy states began to arise from the seventh century. Among them, the Jolof kingdom, long vassal of the Malian Empire, grew more and more as influence and, taking advantage of a power vacuum and the arrival of the legendary Ndiadiane Ndiaye, became independent in 1350. After a rapid conquest of the neighboring kingdoms, the monarchy became an empire, which brought peace for some time, but sowing the germ of slavery.

Map of the Senegal

Because of the various conquests, in fact, this practice was increasingly encouraged towards prisoners of war, which immediately attracted the Europeans. These immediately took advantage of the large market offer, encouraging more and more locals to engage in this suicidal trade. The collapse of this Empire in 1549, then, will make Senegal one of the fundamental destinations of the notorious Atlantic Route for a long time.

From slavery to freedom

It is estimated, in fact, that from 1300 to 1900 about a third of the Senegalese were reduced to slavery, with the island of Gorée as the main sorting center. Paradoxically, the situation improved with the arrival of the French colonizers, who soon abolished this practice.

Senegalese countryside

This will foster a renewed national unity, which will lead most of the people to officially adopt Islam. Until then, only some populations such as the Fula and the Toucoleur practiced it, while most of the other inhabitants continued to join it with much of their local cults, while maintaining the “Muslim clergy” as advisers and administrators. In 1960 the country will become independent again, driving out the French and joining for less than a year with Mali, which also freed itself that year. Subsequently, there will also be an attempt to unite with Gambia, even the latter, which ended very quickly.

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