Senegal Independence DayAug 20, 2020 10:53AM ● By Oga Africa
“From now on, our duty as Negro-Africans is plain. We remain free to travel with the current, or to row against it.” –Leopold Senghor, First President of Ghana
“The French forced us to seek the essence of Negritude when they enforced their policy of assimilation and thus deepened our despair; we had become aware within ourselves that assimilation was a failure; we could assimilate mathematics or the French language, but we could never strip off our black skins nor root out our black souls.” –Leopold Senghor, First President of Senegal
Happy Independence Day to Senegal! Today, August 20th, FunTimes celebrates the various facets of Senegalese history, culture, politics and identity. Let’s jump right in!
From the 7th to the 13th century, Senegal encompassed part the acclaimed Ancient Ghana Empire, and from 1350 to 1549, the country housed the Jolof or Wolof Kingdom. France began colonizing the country in 1659. From the 16th to the 19th century, the Island of Goree, located on the Cape Verde Peninsula, Senegal, was the largest trade center of enslaved Africans, and was used by the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French.
Senegal was founded by a writer/poet/intellectual named Leopold Senghor. Senghor is a leading figure in the post-colonial African endeavors. Between the 1930’s and 1950’s, Senghor worked with former French colonized Africans and Caribbeans to develop and popularize Negritude, a literary renaissance movement that put African centered values into focus in light of racism in France and western imperialism. Negritude builds on the phenomenon sparked by the Harlem Renaissance, and is revolutionary because it places African culture back into the psychology of modern socialization as a respectable form of thought.
Senegal is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to Africa,’ as it contains various maritime and air travel routes, and is also located at the most western part of the continent. Its capital, Dakar, is well known for its modern attractions, colorful vibe and eclectic music scene, to name a few.
The country’s coat of arms includes the baobab tree and the lion, which symbolizes its diverse animals, landscape and plant life. Many of Senegalese people practice Islam. However, the country has no official religion.
(Senegal Coat of Arms)
The peanut was the main backbone of the economy for a while, and Senegal is one of Africa’s more politically stable economies. The current Head of State and Government, Macky Sall, took office in 2012.
The Wolof tribe of the country has the most influence in society, and other tribes include the Fulani, Serer, Diola, Malinke and more. The Wolof and Malinke tribes are famous for their use of Griots, or oral storytellers and keepers of history and culture.
Senegalese communities prepare delicious meals, including Maafe or Peanut Sauce with rice, Thieboudienne (Jollof,) Poulet Yassa, couscous, Bassi-salte or beef stew with couscous and more.
I don’t know about you, but now we are ready to eat! What is your favorite Senegalese restaurant? We love Youma’s and Kilimandjaro!