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The Bridge Between Senegal’s Culture and Civilization

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

Senegal, the 2nd largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) area, gained its independence on April 4th, 1960 and has a population of 16.74 million today.

The country is best known for being the origin of “Jollof Rice,” “Laamb” (Senegal’s traditional wrestling), its tourist attractions, and its “Teranga” – or Hospitality.

To celebrate Black History Month, we are going to explore what makes Senegal – host of the first-ever World Festival of Black Arts – so unique.

TERANGA”: The Trademark for Senegal’s Hospitality

Treating guests with honor and abundance is part of every African culture, but tourists visiting Senegal are unanimous on one thing: the unrivaled Senegalese hospitality.

The likes of NBA Player Jimmy Butler, Rick Ross, Nas Daily, and multiple U.S. presidents have experienced this unique and warm hospitality.

Guests get to experience the life of the typical Senegalese family, with 10 to 20 people sharing a large plate of Jollof rice at the warmth of the family house.

“CEEBU JËN”: Jollof Rice

On December 19th 2021, UNESCO listed Jollof Rice, which is derived from “Wolof” (Senegal’s dominant local language) among Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This gives Senegal the win over Nigeria and Ghana, both of whom had claimed to be the best Jollof Rice makers.

So, it is safe to say that “Ndar” Saint Louis in Senegal is the capital of Jollof Rice.

This famous dish from Senegal has a unique blend of flavor and ingredients.

Jollof Rice can be traced to the ancient Wolof Empire (also called the Jolof Empire) of the 1300s, which spanned parts of today’s Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania.

LAAMB”: The Traditional Wrestling

Laamb” or “Beuré” loosely translated to “wrestling,” is one of Senegal’s iconic cultural traditions.

Laamb was formerly a friendly competition between and within villages after harvest seasons to determine the strongest man. However, it has evolved into the country’s number 1 national sport with 8,000 professional wrestlers.

The top Laamb wrestlers like Yékini, Bombardier B52, Balla Gaye2, and Modou Lo often earn a purse of up to 100 million CFA a fight. That’s about 172,000 USD. The evolution of wrestling in Senegal has long attracted tourists and opened new opportunities for wrestlers who got their start in Laamb now competing at the international level.

Tourism in Senegal

With one million tourists in 2017, Senegal is the favorite destination for tourists visiting west Africa because of its wide array of historical sites, museums, and other astonishing places and attractions.

These include the island of Gorée (Slave Island), Monument of Renaissance, the long shores and sunny beaches with crazy affordable hotels, and attractions in Saly.

Tourism accounted for 9% of Senegal’s total gross domestic production (GDP) in 2019.

Some of the main attractions are akin to Kenyan resorts, where you can be in close proximity with wild animals in total safety. But there’s an upside: you get to walk with lions at the reserve of Fathala.

Agriculture: The Pillar of Senegal’s Development Policy

Senegal’s economy traditionally revolved around peanut production long before colonization.

In fact, Senegal was at some point the world’s largest peanut producer, with 27% of its household growing peanut and over 200,000 tons exported in 2020.

The government has increased efforts to diversify to other cash crops such as sugarcane and cotton.

Senegal’s agricultural sector has grown significantly due to robust support programs and growing external demand with an added value of 581 billion CFA. This was thanks to Senegal’s farm households, representing 60% of the value the sector added to the country’s economy in 2011.

Multimedia and Cinema

Nigeria paved the way with its film industry, “Nollywood,” and inspired many African countries to invest in cinema. Senegal’s own film industry is called “Sunuyeuf.”

Many young Senegalese have hopes of breaking into Senegal’s film industry and often start by making social media videos and skits. Senegalese Influencers and Youtubers like Dudufaitdesvideos, Makhfouss, and Jaaw Ketchup are a few examples of individuals who made it into Senegal’s own Hollywood, “Sunuyeuf.

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