Culture & Society

Senegal

The West African country of Senegal is home to diverse ethnic groups whose individual traditions have contributed to the richness of the nation’s culture.  Whilst French, due to its colonial past, remains the official language only a minority continue to speak the language. Instead, Wolof is the predominant language and culture of the country, and its traditions and customs have spread throughout Senegal, becoming part of wider Senegalese society.

Senegal is relatively stable, having escaped many of the lengthy conflicts that have plagued neighbouring African nations. Perhaps this is attributable to Senegal’s strong and universal value of teranga, which captures ideals of having a generous and welcoming spirit, showing hospitality and warmth, and having solidarity with others. This ideal is widely considered to have emerged when the country achieved independence in 1960 as a way to bring together a population that was diverse in ethnicity, religion and language. The country takes pride in its teranga culture and it is well and truly the core of Senegalese society, with even its national football team being called the Lions of TerangaTeranga is reflected in day to day life in the practice of communal eating, the vibrancy of the music and dance seen at social gatherings, and in the religious and cultural tolerance that generally permeates across Senegal.

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