Republic Of Senegal

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Senegal, Republic Of


(République du Sénégal), a state in West Africa, bounded on the north and northeast by Mauritania, on the east by Mali, on the south by the Republic of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. Gambia protrudes into Senegal from the west. Area, 196,200 sq km. Population, 4.32 million (1974). Its capital is Dakar.

The country is divided into seven administrative regions: Cap Vert (with Dakar as its capital), Fleuve (Saint-Louis), Diourbel (Diourbel), Thiés (Thiés), Siné-Saloum (Kaolack), Eastern Senegal (Tambacounda), and Casamance (Ziguinchor). The regions are subdivided into departments and districts.

Constitution and government. Senegal is a republic. Its existing constitution was adopted on Mar. 7, 1963, and was revised between 1967 and 1970. The head of state and chief executive is the president, elected for a term of five years by universal and direct suffrage. The president determines the country’s domestic and foreign policy, is responsible for national defense, and serves as the supreme commander in chief of the armed forces and as chairman of the High Council of National Defense. He appoints and dismisses the prime minister, the members of the government, and all civil and military officials, has the right to dissolve parliament and to issue decrees and edicts, and concludes and ratifies international treaties and agreements.

The highest legislative body is the unicameral National Assembly, composed of 100 deputies elected for five-year terms by universal and direct suffrage. All the deputies are elected on the basis of a full national list. Only the Assembly may enact laws. The constitution lists the issues that are subject to legislative regulation; on other matters the president and the government may adopt “regulating acts.” All citizens who have attained the age of 21 may vote. The government—the Council of Ministers—is headed by a prime minister and includes ministers of state, ministers, and secretaries of state. The Economic and Social Council, an advisory body, gives its conclusions regarding draft law-making instruments of an economic or social nature.

Local affairs are administered by officials appointed by the president: in the regions by governors, in the departments by prefects, in the districts by subprefects, and in the municipal communes by administrators. The system of local self-government includes regional, departmental, district, municipal, and village councils. Some of the council members are elected by the councils below them, and some are appointed at the recommendation of economic or social organizations, such as cooperatives or chambers of commerce. Council members serve for five years.

Senegal’s judicial system comprises the Supreme Court, which also determines the constitutionality of laws, the Court of Appeal, courts of first instance, and justices of the peace. The Assembly forms from among its members the High Court of Justice, an extraordinary body that is empowered to impeach the president if he commits treason, as well as members of the government who have committed official crimes.

Natural features. Senegal is a flat country lying in a zone of savannas and sparse subequatorial forests. Its surface is a low, slightly rolling plain sloping downward toward the Atlantic. In the southeast isolated residual massifs rise to 500 m. Around Cap Vert are several small extinct Quaternary volcanoes. North of Dakar the coast is low and straight, with sandbars; to the south it is broken in places by river estuaries.

Senegal is located on the western edge of the African Platform. Most of its territory is occupied by the Senegal Down-warp, filled with marine, lagoon, and continental deposits of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic with a thickness of up to 10 km. The oldest formations of the basement, belonging to the Birrimian system of the Lower Proterozoic, crop out in the southeast in the East Senegalese Massif, along with numerous granitoid bodies. To the west of the massif, the Mauritanean-Senegalese zone of Baikal folding stretches from north to south. The zone is composed of Riphean sand-shale series and Riphean-Vendian deposits that were deformed by movements at the end of the Paleozoic.

Mineral resources include phosphorites (known reserves of about 200 million tons) and aluminum phosphates (more than 100 million tons), found chiefly in Eocene rocks; iron ore, associated with Precambrian rocks; and coastal sand deposits containing ilmenite, rutile, and zirconium. Also important are cement raw material, salt, and, on the continental shelf, petroleum deposits estimated at about 100 million tons. Bauxite deposits have been discovered in eastern Senegal, on the left bank of the Falémé River.

The climate is subequatorial and ranges from arid in the north, where the precipitation totals 250–300 mm a year, to humid in the south, where the Casamance Valley receives about 1,500 mm of rainfall annually. There is a distinct dry season and a rainy season lasting from May to November in the south and from July to September in the north. The temperature is fairly constant throughout the year, averaging 23°C in January and 28°C in July. Two large permanent rivers flow through Senegal—the Sénégal in the north and the Casamance in the south; in the east is the upper course of the Gambia River. Most of the other rivers dry up almost completely during the dry season. The rivers are used primarily for irrigation.

In the northern Sahel region, reddish brown soils have developed under desert savanna. South of the Sahel acasias and baobab trees appear. Further to the south typical savannas occur on weakly leached reddish brown soils. In the southwest mixed deciduous and coniferous forests flourish on red ferruginous soils along the lower course of the Casamance River. Human economic activity has greatly altered the natural vegetation.

Large animals have been mostly exterminated, although herds of antelopes may still be encountered in the savanna and predators—jackals, hyenas, leopards, and cheetahs—are found in the border regions and national parks, the largest of which is the Niokolo Koba Wildlife Park. There are many small rodents, birds, reptiles, and insects, including mosquitoes, termites, and tsetse flies. The coastal waters abound in such commercially valuable fish as tuna, mackerel, sardines, rosefish, and dorado (Coryphaena hippuris); sharks are also encountered.

M. B. GORNUNG and N. A. BOZHKO (geological survey)

Population. More than 87 percent of the population consists of peoples belonging to the Atlantic language family. The most numerous of these peoples are the Wolof, Fulbe (Fulani), Serer, and Dyola. Mande-speaking peoples such as the Bambara, Malinke, and Soninke constitute another important group. There are also Arabs and Europeans, chiefly French.

French is the official language, and Wolof and Fulbe are the most widely spoken languages. Some 85 percent of the people are Muslims. There are also Christians, most of them Catholics, and adherents of traditional religions and cults. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

Between 1970 and 1973 the population increased at an average annual rate of 2.5 percent. The economically active population totaled 1,739,000 persons in 1970, of whom 75.6 percent were engaged in agriculture. Whereas in the coastal zone the density ranges from 50 to 100 persons per sq km, in Eastern Senegal it does not exceed five persons per sq km. Owing to the unevenness of commodity production in the various regions, there is a steady migration from the Sénégal Valley and Eastern Senegal to the Siné-Saloum, Thiès, and Cap Vert regions. The influx of peasants has swelled the population of cities in the western part of the country. In 1970 urban dwellers constituted 27 percent of the population, as compared to 14.4 percent in 1936. The largest cities are Dakar (with 700,000 inhabitants, including suburbs, in 1973), Kaolack, Thiès, and Saint-Louis.

Historical survey. Tools dating from the Paleolithic have been discovered along the Atlantic coast at Pointe de Fann and Pointe de Bel Air, both on the Cap Vert Peninsula, and along the middle course of the Sénégal River. Neolithic implements have been found along the Atlantic coast from Cayor to Saint-Louis and in Fadiouth, as well as in the Saloum estuary. In this period the settled population of Senegal engaged in fishing and agriculture.

In ancient and medieval times caravan routes from North Africa to the Western Sudan (West Africa) crossed the basin of the Sénégal River, from which the country derived its name. At various times part or all of Senegal’s territory was included in the states of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. During the Middle Ages several states flourished in the area: Tekrur, including Fouta-Toro, which existed from the ninth to the 15th centuries; the Jolof empire, which broke away from Tekrur in the 12th century and lasted until the 16th century; and the kingdoms that seceded from the Jolof empire in the 16th century—Walo, Baol, Siné, and Saloum. (Cayor arose in the 18th century.)

During the Almoravids’ invasion of Ghana in the 11th century Islam was introduced into Senegal, and between the 12th and 16th centuries it was accepted by most of the population. The tribes in the east and south adhered to their traditional beliefs. In the medieval states of Senegal feudal relations were intermingled with elements of the primitive-communal and slave-holding systems.

In the 15th century the Portuguese came to Senegal, from which they exported ivory, gum arabic, and gold dust. From the 16th century they carried on a slave trade, one of whose main centers was Cap Vert. During the 16th and 17th centuries Portugal, the Netherlands, England, and France struggled for control over trade in the area. In 1633 the French founded the Senegal Company, and in 1638 they established a trading post on the Sénégal estuary, which became the springboard for further colonial expansion. In 1659 the trading post was given city status and named Saint-Louis.

The peoples of Senegal put up a stiff resistance to the colonialists. From the 1840’s to the 1860’s the Tukulors (Toucouleurs), led by El Hadj Omar, waged a prolonged struggle against French troops. Under the leadership of Lat Dior, the sultan of Cayor (died 1886), the Wolof inflicted several defeats on French troops. Nevertheless, weakened by internecine struggles, the Senegalese states could not hold out against the superior forces of the colonialists. The French annexed Cayor in 1886, Baol and Fouta-Toro in 1890, and Saloum in 1898. Senegal was included in French West Africa in 1895, and Dakar became its administrative center in 1904.

Under colonial domination Senegal’s economy became onesided; peanuts were raised to the exclusion of other crops. The chief methods of colonial exploitation were unequal exchange and forced labor. In the late 19th century the first railroads were built, and several mining and processing industries were established. The number of hired laborers increased, and a national intelligentsia arose. Seeking to establish a base of support among the Senegalese population, France pursued a policy of assimilating Africans. During the 19th century “communes with full rights” were set up in Dakar, Saint-Louis, and Rufis-que, as well as on the island of Gorée. The inhabitants of the communes were considered to be French citizens and were granted the right to elect one deputy to the French parliament; the first African deputy, Blaise Diagne, was elected in 1914. The rest of the population was deprived of political rights.

The French authorities did not permit the creation of independent political parties, and they hindered the organization of trade unions. Nevertheless, soon after World War I, the first political organizations appeared—the petit bourgeois, nationalistic Young Senegalese Movement and Diagnist Movement (followers of Blaise Diagne). Along with spontaneous anticolonial mass demonstrations, the first strikes occurred. Railroad workers struck in 1919 and dockworkers and sailors the following year. Large-scale strikes were organized by the railroad workers’ union in 1938. During World War II (from 1942), Senegal, and especially Dakar, was one of the strongholds of the Free French and an important Allied naval base.

After the war the national liberation movement gained momentum. The most influential political party was the Senegalese Democratic Bloc, founded in 1948 and headed by L. S. Sen-ghor. The party merged with other political factions in 1956 to form the Senegalese Popular Bloc, reorganized as the Senegalese Progressive Union in 1959. (In December 1976 the party was renamed the Socialist Party of Senegal.) The African Party of Independence of Senegal, established in 1957, proclaimed Marxism-Leninism as its ideological basis.

In 1958, after a referendum was held to determine whether Senegal would join the French Community, Senegal became an autonomous state within the Community. In January 1959, Senegal and the former French Sudan (Sudanese Republic) merged to form the Mali Federation. On Apr. 4, 1960, an agreement was signed granting the Federation independence, which was duly proclaimed on June 20. The Federation’s government concluded treaties with France, under which it agreed to consult with France on matters of foreign policy, defense, and economic, financial, and trade policy.

Because of disagreements over questions of foreign and domestic policy between Senegal and the Sudanese Republic, the Federation was dissolved. On Aug. 20, 1960, Senegal was proclaimed an independent republic, but it remained a member of the French Community and confirmed all the agreements that had been made between France and the Federation. In September 1960, Senghor became president of Senegal, and on Sept. 28, 1960, the country was admitted to the UN. A new constitution was ratified in March 1963 by referendum. The ruling party, the Socialist Party of Senegal, proclaimed African socialism as its official ideology, stressing the distinctiveness of African society. In 1976, after a number of constitutional reforms, two more parties were permitted to function, and a three-party system was established in the country. The Senegalese government announced that it intended to support planned economic development on the basis of a “mixed economy” and to encourage both foreign and Senegalese private capital investments.

In foreign policy, the Senegalese government has advocated “nonalignment and dialogue.” Senegal cooperates with France and the other Western powers, and is a member of the African, Malagasy, and Mauritius Common Organization. On Jan. 1, 1974, it joined the West African Economic Community. On June 14, 1962, Senegal and the USSR established diplomatic relations. The two countries have signed agreements on trade and economic and technical cooperation, as well as a convention on cultural cooperation.


Political parties and trade unions. After a number of constitutional reforms, a three-party system was established in Senegal in 1976. The Constitution defined the basic ideological principles of the legal parties. Founded in 1959 and called the Senegalese Progressive Union until December 1976, the Socialist Party of Senegal (Parti Socialiste du Sénégal) is the ruling party.

According to the Constitution, it is a socialist and democratic party. It draws its support from the rural and urban bourgeoisie, the country’s feudal-patriarchal upper class, officials, and religious leaders. In November 1976 it joined the Socialist International. The Democratic Party of Senegal (Parti Démocratique du Sénégal), founded in 1974, includes some former members of the Socialist Party of Senegal and part of the feudal-tribal upper class and intelligentsia. According to the Constitution, it is a liberal democratic party (right-wing). The African Party of Independence of Senegal (Parti Africain de l’Indepéndance du Sénégal) was founded in 1957 and operated underground from 1960 to 1976. According to the Constitution, it is a Marxist-Leninist, or Communist, party (left-wing). It does not have a marked influence in the country. Founded in 1969, the National Confederation of Senegalese Workers (Conféderation Nationale des Travailleurs du Sénégal), Senegal’s trade union center, supports the Socialist Party of Senegal.

Economic geography. Senegal is an agrarian country whose economy is based on the production of peanuts and peanut products for export. To a considerable degree, its economy is tied to the world market and is dependent on foreign, mainly French, capital. Since World War II, British, American, West German, and Italian capital has been flowing into the country.

The cultivation of peanuts, introduced in the mid-19th century by the French colonial authorities, expanded rapidly after the construction of railroads from Saint-Louis to Dakar in 1885 and from Thiès to Kayes between 1909 and 1923. During and after World War II foreign companies built enterprises, chiefly in Dakar, to produce peanut oil for export to France and consumer goods for the markets of former French West Africa. By the 1960’s Senegal had the best-developed commercial agriculture and processing industry in the former French West African colonies.

Since the declaration of independence in 1960, the Senegalese government has leaned toward cooperation with Western monopolistic capital, both private and state. This policy has restricted the development of Senegal’s economy and strengthened the position of foreign capital. Nevertheless, the government is taking steps to develop the republic’s economy. In agriculture, cooperatives, chiefly marketing organizations, have been created, and the amount of land under cultivation has increased from 1.8 million hectares (ha) in 1960 to 5.6 million ha in 1970. In industry new enterprises are being built, mostly with funds provided by foreign companies. Economic development programs, financed by foreign capital, are being carried out.

The fourth economic development program (1973–74 to 1977–78) provided for an investment of 181 billion African francs, of which 64.6 percent was to come from the government and 35.4 percent from private sources. Under the program, 24.8 percent of the money was to be allocated for agricultural development and 14.4 percent for electric power production, the processing industry, and handicrafts. In 1969 agriculture accounted for 31 percent of the gross national product, industry and construction for 18 percent, transportation for 5 percent, trade for 24 percent, and services for 22 percent.

AGRICULTURE. Senegal’s agriculture is dominated by a communal landholding system. Private land use and ownership have evolved in regions where peanuts are produced commercially. The leasing of land is widespread in the Thiès and Siné-Saloum regions, and the Sénégal Valley has feudal forms of landownership and land use. Agriculture is based on manual labor. On nonirrigated land the slash-and-burn system is used, but the bottomlands are cultivated every year. In 1971, 119,000 ha were irrigated. Since the 1960’s cattle have been used for draft in the western parts of the country. The drought of 1971–72 and 1972–73 greatly damaged the country’s agriculture. In 1970 arable land and land under perennial crops occupied 28 percent of the country’s area; meadows and pastures, 29 percent; and forests and scrub, 27 percent.

Crop cultivation, the leading branch of agriculture, predominates in the western part of the area between the Sénégal and Gambia rivers, in the Sénégal Valley, and in the Casamance Region. Approximately 18 percent of the entire cultivated area is sown to peanuts, commercially produced in the Thiès, Diour-bel, and Siné-Saloum regions. Peanut cultivation is expanding in the Casamance Region. In 1974 the area under peanuts amounted to 1 million ha, as compared to 1,059,000 ha from 1961 to 1965, and the harvest totaled 850,000 tons, a decline from the 1,010,000 tons produced between 1961 and 1965. The yield varies from 5–7 centners per ha to as much as 10–12 centners per ha.

In addition to peanuts, farmers usually grow crops for their own use. These include millet (500,000 tons in 1974), grown throughout the country; manioc (160,000 tons) and rice (95,000 tons), raised in the north along the lower reaches of the Sénégal River and around Richard-Toll and in the south along the Casamance River; sweet potatoes; and corn. Oil palms and bananas are cultivated in the Casamance Region. Owing to the shortage of foodstuffs, the government is encouraging rice cultivation in the hope of curtailing food imports. Commercial fruit and vegetable growing is developing on the Cap Vert Peninsula, as well as along the coast north of Dakar. Cotton has been introduced in Eastern Senegal (11,000 tons of fiber in 1974), and sugarcane is another new crop.

Livestock raising—transhumant and unproductive—is the main economic activity in the country’s arid northern and eastern regions. In 1974 the livestock population included 2.3 million head of cattle, 1 million sheep, 950,000 goats, and 5.7 million poultry. Fishing has grown rapidly since the 1950’s. The fish catch, mostly tuna, amounted to 324,000 tons in 1973; some fish is exported.

INDUSTRY. Phosphorites are mined in the Thiès Region, where the Taiba and Pallo deposits yielded about 1.7 million tons in 1973. Salt is extracted from seawater near Kaolack. Most of the country’s electricity is generated by steam power plants in Dakar; 353 million kW-hr were produced in 1973.

The most highly developed branch of manufacturing is the processing of agricultural raw materials, mainly peanuts. Almost all the processing enterprises are on the Cap Vert Peninsula; many are small-scale or semidomestic establishments. The largest enterprises of the food-processing industry are French-owned plants producing peanut oil in Dakar, Kaolack, Diour-bel, and Ziguinchor. Also in Dakar are several large breweries and flour mills. The leading branches of light industry are the manufacture of textiles and leather footwear (Dakar).

A metalworking industry is developing. Its main branches are ship- and motor-vehicle repair, and the assembly of trucks, farm machinery, and metal structures. Other enterprises include a cement plant, furniture factories, and sawmills. The chemical industry is represented by a plant producing mineral fertilizers (using phosphorites) near Rufisque and by an oil refinery in Dakar with a capacity of 1.2 million tons. Domestic handicrafts, notably pottery-making and the weaving of mats, continue to flourish.

TRANSPORTATION. In 1973, Senegal had 1,300 km of railroad track and 14,000 km of roads, of which 2,400 km were paved with asphalt. That year there were 76,000 motor vehicles. The Sénégal River is navigable during the rainy season; the principal landings are Saint-Louis, Podor, and Matam. The chief seaport, Dakar, had a cargo turnover of approximately 5 million tons in 1973. The port serves Mali and southern Mauritania and supplies foreign ships with fuel, water, and foodstuffs. Near Dakar is the Yoff International Airport.

FOREIGN TRADE. In 1973 exports totaled 43.2 billion African francs and imports, 79.8 billion African francs. In 1971 peanut oil and oil cake accounted for 35 percent of the value of exports and phosphorites for about 10 percent. Imports include foodstuffs, textile goods, footwear, equipment, and motor vehicles. In 1973, Senegal’s principal trading partner was France, which bought 47.5 percent of its exports and contributed 47.8 percent of its imports. Tourism is being developed; revenues from tourism amounted to 1.8 billion African francs in 1972. The monetary unit is the African franc. In April 1975, 206.84 African francs equaled $1.


Armed forces. Senegal’s armed forces consist of an army, an air force, and a navy, together numbering about 8,000 men, including about 2,000 gendarmes. The supreme commander in chief is the president, who also heads the High Council of National Defense. There is a Ministry of Defense, as well as a General Staff. The armed forces are recruited on the basis of universal compulsory military service; professional soldiers are also hired. The draft age is 20, and the term of active military service is 18 months. Officers are trained in France. The 5,500-man army is equipped with weapons of French manufacture. The air force of about 200 men has several transport planes, and the navy, also of about 200 men, has five patrol boats.

Health and social welfare. According to incomplete data, the birth rate was 45–50 per 1,000 in 1970 and the death rate 24–32 per 1,000. Infant mortality was very high, ranging from 250 to 350 per 1,000 live births. The average life expectancy is approximately 41 years.

Among common infectious and parasitic diseases are dysentery, tuberculosis, meningococcic, viral, and arboviral infections, malaria, helminthiases, leprosy, schistosomiasis, trypanosomosis, and dracunculiasis. Schistosomiasis is widespread along the Gambia, Falémé, Siné, Saloum, and Casamance rivers; the principal sites of trypanosomosis are the Ké-dougou district in Eastern Senegal and in the Casamance Region. Onchocerciasis is most frequently encountered in eastern Senegal, in the Kédougou District and in the Falémé and Gambia valleys. Along the middle course of the Casamance River, as much as 87–100 percent of the population of some settlements is afflicted with the disease. About 40,000 persons suffer from leprosy. Ascariasis, trichocephaliasis, and ancylosto-miasis are found throughout the country. Dermal leishmaniasis is endemic in the Thiès Region.

In 1969, Senegal had 40 hospitals, none of them free of charge, with 5,100 beds, or 1.4 beds per 1,000 inhabitants. There are about 277 doctors (1971), or one for every 14,500 inhabitants, 95 assistant doctors (1969), 25 dentists, 60 pharmacists, and 2,270 paramedical personnel (1973). Doctors are trained at the University of Dakar and in the USSR, France, and other countries. In 1974 the World Health Organization granted Senegal US$201,400 to develop epidemiological and other public health services and to train nurses.


Veterinary services. Common infectious animal diseases include peripneumonia of cattle, hemorrhagic septicemia, blackleg, anthrax, epizootic lymphangitis, brucellosis, sheep pox, Newcastle disease, rickettsiosis, trypanosomiasis, fascioliasis, echinococcosis, cysticercosis, theileriasis, schistosomiasis, and coccidiosis. African swine plague, African horse sickness, and small ruminant plague are also encountered. There has been notable progress in the eradication of cattle plague. In 1966. Senegal and other West African countries (Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Ivory Coast) launched a program to eradicate the disease with funds from the Food and Agriculture Organization and other sources.

Veterinary services are supervised by the Office of Livestock Raising and the Animal Industry under the Ministry of Agricultural Development. Scientific research is conducted at a national laboratory for livestock breeding and veterinary research in Hann, a suburb of Dakar. In 1974 there were 35 veterinarians in Senegal; specialists are trained abroad.


Education and scientific institutions. At independence (1960), more than 95 percent of the population was illiterate. A law providing for compulsory primary education, enacted in 1963, has not been implemented, and in 1970 some 80 percent of the population over the age of 15 was illiterate. The system of education is modeled on the French system. At the age of six, children are enrolled in a six-year primary school, divided into three two-year cycles—a preparatory, an elementary, and an intermediate cycle. There are two types of secondary general schools: the four-year collège and the seven-year lycée. Three kinds of vocational schools are open to graduates of primary schools: three-year vocational schools, four-year technical collèges, and seven-year technical lycées. In 1971 the primary schools had an enrollment of 270,000 pupils; the secondary schools, 58,000; and teacher-training collèges, more than 650. The University of Dakar, one of West Africa’s principal centers of higher education, was founded as an institute in 1949 and made a university in 1957.

Most of the country’s scientific institutions are affiliated with the University of Dakar. The largest of them, the Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noir (IFAN), founded in 1936, has departments of history, sociology, linguistics, Islamic studies, archaeology and ancient history, anthropology and ethnography, geography, and botany. The institute also maintains a museum of African art and a historical and maritime museum. Attached to the university are research institutes of tropical medicine, pediatrics, oncology, and stomatology; a center for psychiatry and social psychology, linked with French scientific organizations; and a technological research institute. Scholarly work is also done at the National Archive (founded in 1913) and the National Arts Institute (1972).

A number of Senegal’s scientific institutions serve other West African countries as well, among them the Veterinary Institute under the Ministry of Agricultural Development. Several scientific stations and centers working in agriculture, geology, and geophysics are associated with the French Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre-Mer. The country’s largest library, the university library, was founded in 1952 and contains 184,800 volumes.


Press, radio, and television. In 1975 a daily newspaper and some 20 bulletins and other periodicals were published in Dakar. The French-language daily Le Soleil, which in 1970 replaced Dakar Matin (founded in 1933), has a circulation of about 30,000 (1977). Weeklies include the newspaper L’Ouest Africain, published since 1972 (circulation, about 5,000), and the government bulletin Journal Officiel de la République du Sénégal (circulation, 2,500), both issued in French.

The leading French-language monthly publications are L’Unité Africaine, the organ of the Senegalese Progressive Union (founded in the early 1960’s, it ceased publication in 1967 but was revived in 1975), with a circulation of about 7,000; Le Démocrate, the organ of the Senegalese Democratic Party (issued since 1974), with a circulation of more than 10,000; the magazine L’Observateur Africain (since 1964), with a circulation of about 20,000; the illustrated magazine Bingo (since 1952), with a circulation of about 20,000; and Carrefour, a magazine for young people published since 1974.

Kaddu, a literary and political monthly in Wolof published since 1972, has a circulation of 1,500.

Radio broadcasts, begun in 1926, are carried over two stations in English, French, Portuguese, Arabic, and various native languages. Television broadcasting was inaugurated in 1964. In November 1973 radio and television broadcasting came under the supervision of the Office of Radio and Television Broadcasting.

Literature. Each of Senegal’s ethnic groups has its ancient oral poetic traditions, rich in genres, and its professional narrators, known as griots. None of the indigenous languages had writing systems, but since independence alphabets have been created for some of the principal languages. A written literature in the native languages is now emerging. Pathé Diagné has compiled and published a collection of world poetry called A Literary Anthology in Wolof (no date), which includes several classic Russian poems.

Modern Senegalese literature is written in French. Its beginnings are linked with the activity of a group of African intellectuals in Paris, who during the 1930’s rallied around the newspaper L’É tudiant noir. This milieu engendered the philosophical and aesthetic concept of négritude, later developed by L. S. Sen-ghor. The aspirations of these intellectuals were reflected in the novels Karim (1935) and Mirages of Paris (1937) by Ousmane Socé Diop (born 1911), the founder of Senegalese prose.

Literature developed rapidly after World War II, when the magazine Présence Africaine, founded in 1947, helped unite the country’s literary forces. During the struggle for independence, Senegalese writers presented a united front against colonialism. There were ideological differences among them, however, which became more evident after independence and which led to the development of two trends, the revolutionary and the moderate.

The moderate trend includes Senghor, B. Diop (born 1906), and the young writers who contribute to Présence Africaine. These writers tend to magnify the distinctiveness of Africa’s historical development—thereby denying the internal contradictions in African society—and to idealize precolonial relations. Their merit lies in their efforts to preserve the cultural values created by the peoples of Senegal and to incorporate the folk heritage into their writings. The concept of négritude, to which most of the moderates subscribe, was treated from an unusual perspective in C. H. Kane’s novel Ambiguous Adventure (1961). Among the literary critics who belong to this trend are Lamine Diakhaté and Kane.

The foremost representatives of the revolutionary trend are D. Diop (1927–60), who wrote anticolonialist and anticapitalist poems, and O. Sembène, known for his novels about the national liberation movement and modern Senegal. Mamadou Traoré Diop’s In Lenin’s Country (1974) describes the achievements of the Soviet state.


Architecture and art. Among the relatively few surviving examples of medieval artistic culture are tombs in the form of circular mounds, jewelry, and ceramics with simple incised or impressed decoration. The medieval relics probablv date from the 12th to the 14th century.

Various kinds of traditional dwellings may be found in Senegal. Round huts made of branches, frequently coated with clay, and having conical straw roofs are built by the Wolof, Mande, and Serer. Rectangular pisé huts with thatched gabled roofs are found among the Wolof, Dyola, Mande, Serer, and Tukulor. Large pisé houses with a complex layout are encountered in the southwest among the Dyola, and pisé structures with wooden frames protruding onto the facade as pilasters are constructed in the cities. The many pisé mosques have horseshoe arches and walls surmounted by stepped projections. A noteworthy example is the mosque in Touba, built between 1931 and 1963. Modern architecture, reflecting the influence of French functional-ism, is concentrated in Dakar.

The development of Senegalese sculpture and easel painting, begun in the mid-20th century, has accelerated since independence. The best work is being done by the Dakar school of painting, associated with the School of Arts in Dakar. Two masters of the Dakar school. Papa Ibra Tall and Ibou Diouf, are noted for their ornamental drawing and use of folk motifs. A strong decorative quality is also characteristic of Senegalese graphic art (Amadou Yoro Ba), which sometimes becomes sharply publicistic.

Traditional artistic handicrafts continue to flourish, including the making of wood and ivory masks, woodcarving (furniture and other household objects), pottery-making (vessels with geometric designs), the weaving of baskets and mats with red and black designs, and filigree work in gold.

Theater. The griots, who often also entertained the public as comedians, have exerted a strong influence on the development of the Senegalese theater. Banding together to form traveling troupes, the griots put on improvised shows in village squares. The first attempt to create an African theater was made during the 1930’s at the William Ponty School in Dakar, where at the end of the school year the students staged plays that they themselves had written on historical and legendary themes. In 1937 their plays Sokamé and The Rival Pretendants were staged in Paris at the International Colonial Exhibition. During the 1950’s, when numerous amateur drama groups sprang up throughout West Africa, Dakar became the center of the amateur theater movement. In 1954, Dakar acquired a theater hall, the Palace Theater, where amateur groups staged performances. A drama department was established at the School of Arts.

Since independence the Senegalese theater has remained the finest in West Africa. In 1961 the government organized the National Ensemble of Senegalese Dance. Based on traditional art forms, the ensemble’s repertoire includes dances, pantomimes, and short musical-vocal dramatizations. The ensemble often tours abroad, visiting the USSR in 1965 and 1970. The first World Festival of Negro Arts was held in Dakar in 1966. Shortly before, a new 1,200-seat hall, the Daniel Sorano Theater, had been built in the city.

In 1965 the first professional company in tropical Africa was formed, with Maurice Sonar Senghor as its director. Each of its productions is a major event in the life of the African theater. Its repertoire includes several historical plays depicting the African people’s struggle against the colonial invaders: The Last Days of Lat Dior by Amadou Cissé Dia (1966), The Exile of King Àlbouri by Cheik N’dao (1968), and The Amazoulou by Abdou Anta Ka (1972). Another outstanding production is The Bones of Mor Lam (1967), a “comedy of manners” based on a short story by Birago Diop. Among noteworthy productions of foreign plays are Mr. Bribetaker & Co. (1967), an adaptation of Gogol’s The Inspector-General, Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1968), and Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid (1973).

N. I. L’vov

Motion pictures. The film Africa on the Seine (1955, directed by P. S. Vieyra), which was shot in Paris and which depicted the life of African students in France, laid the foundation for Senegalese cinematography. The awakening of national self-awareness among the African peoples is the subject of the feature film And There Was Snow No Longer (1965, directed by A. Samb-Makharam) and the documentary Black Africa on the Track (1965, directed by Y. Diagne). The conflict between traditional and contemporary life is portrayed in such films as The Girl (1969) and The Woman (1971), both directed by M. Traoré; Kodou (1971), directed by Samb-Makharam; and Karim (1971), based on O. Socé Diop’s novel and directed by M. Thiam.

The unmasking of neocolonialism, the Africans’ resistance to the colonialists, the inability of the national bourgeoisie to govern the country, and other important sociopolitical problems are recurrent themes in the films made by the outstanding director O. Sembène. Among his finest films are The Cart Owner (1963), Niaye (1964), The Money Order (1968, the first Senegalese film in the Wolof language), Emitai (1971), and Hala (1974). Other noteworthy films include Touki-Bouki (1973. directed by D. Diop-Mambéty), The Bronze Bracelet (1974, directed by T. Aw), and N’Jangaan (1974. directed by Traoré).

The leading film stars are T. Diop, I. Niang, M. Kiallo. F. Fall, M. Gueye, and F. Diagne. In 1974 five feature films were released, and 62 motion-picture theaters were in operation.


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