The Senegambia (other names: Senegambia region or Senegambian zone) is, in the narrow sense, a historical name for a geographical region in West Africa, which lies between the Senegal River in the north and the Gambia River in the south. However, there are also text sources which state that Senegambia is understood in a broader sense and equated with the term the Western region. This refers to the coastal areas between Senegal and Sierra Leone, where the inland border in the east were not further defined.
Geographically, the region lies within the tropical zone between the Sahel and the forests of Guinea, with the Senegal and Gambian Rivers underpinning the region's geographical unity. The region encompasses the modern states of Senegal, The Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau, as well as portions of Mauritania, Mali, and Guinea. It should not be confused with the recent Senegambia Confederation, which was a loose confederation between The Gambia and Senegal from 1982 to 1989, setup just after The Gambia's 1981 coup d'état where the Senegalese government intervened to reinstated the democratically elected Gambian government. For more on this, see those articles.
Spanning beyond the borders of the Senegambia Confederation, the Senegambia region was described by the Senegalese historian and scholar Professor Boubacar Barry of UCAD as historically "the main gateway to Sudan, the cradle of the great empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai" and "the centre of gravity for West Africa."
According to Professor Abdoulaye Camara of IFAN and the Senghor University in Alexandria, Egypt, early humans appeared in Senegal around 350000 years ago. Benga and Thiam posits that, it is in the Falémé valley in the southeast of the country where we find the oldest traces of human life.
In Senegambian Neolithic history, the period when humans became hunters, fishermen and producers (farmer and artisan) are all well represented and studied. This is when more elaborate objects and ceramics emerged, testifying to various human activities. The Diakité excavation in Thiès shows evidence of human mobility over a distance of about 600 km, during the Senegambian Neolithic age.
Located in south of Mbour (in the Thiès Region), an ancient culture referred to as the Tiemassassien culture, Tiemassassien industry, Tiémassas or just Tiemassassien was discovered during a Senegalese excavation half a century ago. Descamps proposed that, this culture pertains to the Neolithic Era about 10,000 years ago. Dagan however proposed the Upper Paleolithic Era. This culture was named after Thiès, the region it is in.
The Senegambian stone circles are also located in this zone. Numerous tumuli, burial mounds, some of which have been excavated, revealed materials that dates between the 3rd century BC and the 16th century AD. According to UNESCO : "Together the stone circles of laterite pillars and their associated burial mounds present a vast sacred landscape created over more than 1,500 years. It reflects a prosperous, highly organized and lasting society." See the Senegambian stone circles, Serer ancient history and Serer religion articles for more on this.
During the medieval period of Europe which corresponds roughly to the Golden Age of West Africa, several great empires and kingdoms sprang out from the Senegambia region, including but not limited to the great Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire, the Songhai Empire, the Jolof Empire, the Kaabu Empire, the Kingdoms of Sine, Saloum, Baol, Waalo and Takrur. During this period, several great dynasties rose and fell, and some, such as the Guelowar Dynasty of Sine and Saloum, survived for more than 600 years despite European colonialism, which fell as recently as 1969, nine years after Senegal gained its independence from France. It was also in this region that the ancient lamanic class sprang out of. The ancient lamanes were the land owning class and kings. According to Barry, the "lamanic system is the oldest form of land ownership in precolonial Senegambia."
From the 15th century, the region became a focus of Franco-British-Portuguese rivalry. The Portuguese were the first to arrive in the region in the 1450s. Until the 16th century, they held a monopoly on trade.
In 1677, the French took the island of Gorée, and in 1681 they took control of Albreda on the Gambia River. This started a rivalry with the English, and in 1692 they briefly confiscated Gorée and Saint-Louis. In 1758, during the Seven Years War, Gorée was captured by the British, who held it until 1763. In 1765, the British formed the Senegambia Province. In 1778, during the American War of Independence, the French went on the offensive, and razed James Island in the River Gambia. In 1783, the Treaty of Versailles recognised British claims to The Gambia and French claims to Saint-Louis and Gorée, dissolving the Senegambia Province.
The French pursued a policy of expansion and saw The Gambia as an obstacle. In the late 19th century, they proposed ceding Dabou, Grand Bassam, and Assinie in return for The Gambia. The negotiations broke down but were repeatedly brought up again. After the failed 1981 coup d'etat in The Gambia, a Senegambia Confederation was proposed and accepted. This lasted until 1989.
The Senegambia region has a rich culture including joking relationships between patrilineal clans and ethnic groups. This joking relationship ensures peaceful coexistence where one ethnic group can criticize or even insult another without the recipient taking offence. This bond of cousinage is called maasir or kalir in Serer (shorten to kal by the Wolof), kallengooraxu in Soninke, sanaawyaa in western Mandinka, and agelor in Joola (Fogny)
The griot caste are found extensively in the Senegambia region. They preserve genealogy, history and culture of the people. There is also a mutual exchange of cuisines among the inhabitants of this region. For example Jollof rice (or Benachin as it is called in The Gambia), which is an international export, named after the Kingdom of Jolof in present day Senegal, originated from this region. Thieboudienne, a Senegalese national dish also originated from this region. Tigadèguèna, called domoda in Gambia and maafe in Senegal originated from Mali.
Youssou N'Dour, Africa's most famous singer (according to Rolling Stone magazine (2014)), and who held the title as Africa's most powerful and biggest music export before Akon (who incidentally is also from this region) for several decades is from this region. The African Renaissance Monument built in 2010 in Dakar, standing at 49 m (161 feet) is the tallest statue in Africa.
From the old and sacred music genre of njuup, to the modern mbalax beats (derived from the Serer njuup tradition), the region has a rich and old music and dance tradition. Traditional Senegambian wrestling called njom in Serer, laamb in Wolof and siɲɛta in Bambara is a favourite past time and national sport in some parts of the region especially in Senegal.
Senegambian media is varied and includes several radio stations, television channels, newspapers and Internet. Some of these radio stations and TV channels such as Radiodiffusion Télévision Sénégalaise , Radio Gambia and GRTS are public owned, but most of the media especially radio stations and newspapers are privately owned.
On 4 October 1973, Radio Senegal (Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision du Sénégal (ORTS) as it was known at the time), which had been in talks with Radio Gambia about producing a joint radio programme based on Senegambian history and broadcast in the local Senegambian languages came to an agreement, and the first ever recording of the programme Chossani Senegambia (the history of Senegambia) was made. The show was prerecorded and both Senegal and Gambia broadcast at the same time every Tuesday. That was the first show of its kind within the Senegambia region, where two media houses from different states broadcast the same show at the same time every week. The Gambian historian, and statesman Alieu Ebrima Cham Joof who was former Director of Programmes and Head of Local Languages at Radio Gambia was one of the pioneers of that joint programme. In his book, Senegambia - The land of our heritage (1995), p 12, Cham Joof writes:
The Senegambian zone is home to various Senegambian ethnic groups including Wolof, Pheul (or Fula), Tukulor (or Toucouleur), Manding, Sereer (or Serer), Soninke, Susu (or Sousou), Joola, Nalu, Baga, Beafada, Bainuk, and Bassari.
Abdou Diouf ( (listen) AHB-doo dee-OOF; Serer: Abdu Juuf; born September 7, 1935) is a Senegalese politician who was the second President of Senegal from 1981 to 2000. Diouf is notable both for coming to power by peaceful succession, and leaving willingly after losing the 2000 presidential election to Abdoulaye Wade. He was also the second Secretary-General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie from January 2003 to December 2014.Bai Konte
Alhaji Bai Konte (born 1920; died 1983) was a jali (praise singer) from Brikama, Gambia.
His father Burama Konte composed the Anthem of the 19th century Senegambian hero Mansumaneh Yundum. It was from that piece that the anthems of Sheriff Sidi Hydara and Nyansu Mbasse originated. Burama Konteh was a well known kora player of his generation. Alhaji Bai Konte was a regular on Radio Gambia and Radio Senegal's joint program called Chossani Senegambia (the history of Senegambia) in the 1970s. He and other prominent griots such as Jali Nyama Suso and Alhaji Abdoulaye Samba (on xalam) used to play live music during the show. Alhaji Bai Konteh had narrated many epics on that show including the epic of King Abdou Njie and his griot and advisor Ibra Faye. Prominent broadcasters of that show included Alhaji Alieu Ebrima Cham Joof, Alhaji Assan Njie and Alhaji Mansour Njie.Following in the footstep of his father, Bai Konte also played the 21-string kora and is believed to have been the first kora player to perform and tour in the United States as a soloist, playing at the 1973 Newport Jazz Festival. (Les Ballets Africains, a dance and music group from Guinea, had first performed in the U.S. in 1959, and featured a kora player.)His sons Dembo Konte and Sherrifo Konteh (sic) live in Brikama, Gambia. The Senegambian artist and radio personality Tamsier Joof Aviance is a relative of Jaliba Kuyateh and great-nephew through his mother of Bai Konte. Two LP recordings have been released of Alhaji Bai Konte with Dembo Konte and Malamini Jobarteh (Ma Lamin Jobarteh). Jali Sherrifo Konteh has released two CDs, 'Mansalou' and 'Chesano', and tours the UK most years.Guelowar
The Gelowar also spelled Gelwar, was the maternal dynasty in the Serer pre-colonial kingdoms of Sine and Saloum (in the Senegambia, but mainly in the western area of present-day Senegal). They were from the Mandinka ethnic group. The offsprings of Mandinka women and Serer men became the kings of Sine and Saloum. The dynasty lasted from the mid-14th century to 1969, in which year both kings died.History of the Gambia
The first written records of the region come from Arab traders in the 9th and 10th centuries. In medieval times, the region was dominated by the Trans-Saharan trade and was ruled by the Mali Empire. In the 16th century, the region came to be ruled by the Songhai Empire. The first Europeans to visit the Gambia River were the Portuguese in the 15th century, who attempted to settle on the river banks, but no settlement of significant size was established. Descendants of the Portuguese settlers remained until the 18th century. In the late 16th century, English merchants attempted to begin a trade with the Gambia, reporting that it was "a river of secret trade and riches concealed by the Portuguese."
In the early 17th century, the French attempted to settle the Gambia but failed. Further English expeditions from 1618 to 1621, including under Richard Jobson, were attempted but resulted in huge losses. Merchants of the Commonwealth of England sent expeditions to the Gambia in 1651, but their ships were captured by Prince Rupert the following year. In 1651, the Couronian colonization of the Gambia had also begun, with forts and outposts being erected on several islands. The Courlanders remained dominant until 1659 when their possessions were handed over to the Dutch West India Company. In 1660, the Courlanders resumed possession, but the next year was expelled by the newly formed Royal Adventurers in Africa Company.
In 1667, the rights of the Royal Adventurers to the Gambia were sublet to the Gambia Adventurers but later reverted to the new Royal African Company. 1677 saw the beginning of a century-and-a-half-long struggle between the English and French for supremacy over the Gambia and Senegal. The English possessions were captured several times by the French, but in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the British rights to the region were recognized by the French. In the mid-18th century, the Royal African Company began having serious financial problems and in 1750, Parliament divested the company of its rights in the region. In 1766, the Crown gained possession of the territory, and it formed part of the Senegambia colony. In 1783, Senegambia ceased existing as a British colony.
Following the cessation of Senegambia, the colony was in effect abandoned. The only Europeans were traders who existed in a few settlements on the river banks, such as Pisania. Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Alexander Grant was sent to re-establish a presence in the Gambia. He established Bathurst and the British possessions continued to grow in size through a series of treaties. It was administered from Sierra Leone until 1843 when it was given its own Governor, but in 1866 merged again with Sierra Leone. The cession of the Gambia to France was proposed in the late 19th century but was met with considerable protest in both the Gambia and in England. In 1888, the colony regained its own government structure, and in 1894 the Gambia Colony, and Protectorate was properly established along the lines it would continue to hold until independence.
In 1901, legislative and executive councils were established for the Gambia, as well as the Gambia Company of the RWAFF. Gambian soldiers fought in World War I, and in the 1920s Edward Francis Small led the push for emancipation, founding the Bathurst Trade Union and the Rate Payers' Association. During World War II, the Gambia Company was raised to a regiment, and notably fought in the Burma Campaign in the latter years of the war. Franklin D. Roosevelt's visit to the Gambia in 1943 was the first visit by a sitting US President to the African continent. Following the war, the pace of reform increased, with an economic focus on the production of the Peanut and a failed programme called the Gambia Poultry Scheme by the Colonial Development Corporation. The push towards self-government increased its pace, and the House of Representatives was established in 1960. Pierre Sarr N'Jie served as Chief Minister from 1961 to 1962, though following the 1962 election Dawda Jawara became Prime Minister, beginning the People's Progressive Party's dominance of Gambian politics for the next thirty years. Full internal self-government was achieved in 1963, and following extensive negotiations, the Gambia declared independence in 1965.
The Gambia gained independence as a constitutional monarchy that remained part of the Commonwealth, but in 1970 became a presidential republic. Jawara was elected the first President and remained in this position until 1994. A coup, led by Kukoi Sanyang, was attempted in 1981 but failed after Senegalese intervention. From 1981 to 1989, the Gambia entered into the Senegambia Confederation, which collapsed. In 1994, Jawara was overthrown in a coup d'état led by Yahya Jammeh, who ruled as a military dictator for two years through the AFPRC. He was elected President in 1996 and continued in this role until 2017. During this time, Jammeh's party, the APRC, dominated Gambian politics. the Gambia left the Commonwealth of Nations in 2013 and suffered an unsuccessful coup attempt in 2014. In the 2016 election, Adama Barrow was elected President, backed by a coalition of opposition parties. Jammeh's refusal to step down led to a constitutional crisis and the intervention of ECOWAS forces.Joof family
Joof (English spelling in the Gambia) or Diouf (French spelling in Senegal and Mauritania) is a surname typically Serer. This surname is also spelt Juuf or Juf (in the Serer language). They are the same people. The differences in spelling is because Senegal was colonized by France, while the Gambia was colonized by the United Kingdom. Although spelt differently, they are pronounced the same way. The totem and symbol of the Joof family is the antelope, the symbol of grace, royalty, wisdom, hard work and protection in Serer mythology. The name of their clan is "Njoofene" variations: "Njuufeen" or "Njufeen" (in Serer). Members of this family had ruled over many of the pre-colonial kingdoms of Senegambia, including the Kingdom of Sine, the Kingdom of Saloum and the Kingdom of Baol. The royal princesses (Lingeers) from the Joof family were also given in marriage to the pre-colonial kings and princes of Senegambia. Some of these included the kings of Jolof, kings of Waalo, kings of Cayor and Baol (after 1549 following the Battle of Danki). From these marriages, they provided many heirs to the thrones of these kingdoms. Although usually associated with Serer royalty, the Joof family also figure prominently in Serer religious affairs.Kaabu
The Kaabu Empire (1537–1867), also written Gabu, Ngabou, and N’Gabu', was a Mandinka empire of Senegambia centered within modern northeastern Guinea-Bissau, Larger parts of today's Gambia; Kingdom of Saloum, extending into Koussanar, Koumpentoum regions of South Eastern Senegal, and Casamance in Senegal. It rose to prominence in the region thanks to its origins as a former imperial military province of the Mali Empire. After the decline of the Mali Empire, Kaabu became an independent Empire. Kansala, the imperial capital of Kaabu Empire was annexed by Futa Jallon during the 19th century Fula jihads. However, Kaabu's vast independent Kingdoms across SeneGambia regions continued to thrive even after the fall of Kansala; until total incorporation of the remaining Kingdoms into the British Gambia, Portuguese and French spheres of influence during the Scramble for Africa.Postage stamps and postal history of Senegambia and Niger
Senegambia and Niger was a short-lived administrative unit of the French possessions in Africa, formed in 1902 and reorganized in 1904 into Upper Senegal and Niger.Despite its brief existence, the French government-issued postage stamps for the administrative unit, in the form of a version of its Navigation and Commerce series, inscribed "SENEGAMBIE / ET NIGER". The set consisted of 13 values, from 1 centime to 1 franc.Radio Gambia
Radio Gambia is the national radio broadcaster of the West African state of the Gambia. Established in 1962, it became the first radio station in the Gambia.Radiodiffusion Télévision Sénégalaise
Radiodiffusion Télévision Sénégalaise (RTS) is the Senegalese public broadcasting company.Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dakar
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dakar (Latin: Dakaren(sis)) is the Metropolitan See for the Ecclesiastical province of Dakar in Senegal.Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Libreville
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Libreville is the Metropolitan See of the Latin Ecclesiastical province covering all Gabon.
Its cathedral episcopal see is the Cathédrale Notre Dame de l’Assomption of Libreville, the national capital, which also has a former cathedral of the same name (both dedicated to the Assumption of Mary).Senegambia (Dutch West India Company)
Senegambia, also known in Dutch as Bovenkust ("Upper Coast"), was the collective noun for the fortifications and trading posts owned by the Dutch West India Company (DWIC) in the region now known as Senegal. The main purpose of these trading posts was to obtain slaves in order to ship them to the Americas. The government of the territory was based on Gorée. In 1677, the Dutch lost this island to France. The next year, the French also conquered all DWIC trading posts on the Senegalese coast as well as the island of Arguin.
Having lost almost all the trade in gum arabic, bezoar stone, ambergris and ostrich feathers, the DWIC wanted to regain its position. The Frenchman Jean du Casse, head of the Compagnie de Sénégal, reached an agreement with the local leaders, who decided to destroy the Dutch trading posts and the DWIC lost its position for good.Senegambia Confederation
Senegambia, officially the Senegambia Confederation, was a loose confederation in the late 20th century between the West African countries of Senegal and its neighbour The Gambia, which is almost completely surrounded by Senegal. The confederation was founded on 1 February 1982 following an agreement between the two countries signed on 12 December 1981. It was intended to promote cooperation between the two countries, but was dissolved by Senegal on 30 September 1989 after The Gambia refused to move closer toward union. The Senegambia Confederation should not be confused with the historic Senegambia region, also shortened to Senegambia.Senegambia and Niger
Senegambia and Niger was a short-lived administrative unit of the colonial French West Africa possessions, in the region of present-day Niger, Mali and Senegal.
It was formed in 1902, and reorganized in 1904 into Upper Senegal and Niger.Senegambian stone circles
The Senegambian stone circles lie in The Gambia north of Janjanbureh and in central Senegal.
Approximate area: 30,000 km². They are sometimes divided into the Wassu (Gambian) and Sine-Saloum (Senegalese) circles, but this is purely a national division.Serer-Laalaa
The Serer-Laalaa or Laalaa are part of the Serer ethnic group of Senegambia (Senegal and the Gambia). They live in Laa (var : Lâ), the Léhar Region, which comprises eighteen villages north of Thies and whose inhabitants are Serer-Laalaa. Although the people are ethnically Serer, their language Laalaa (or Lehar) is not a dialect of the Serer-Sine language, but—like Saafi, Noon, Ndut and Palor, one of the Cangin languages.Serer history
The medieval history of the Serer people of Senegambia is partly characterised by resisting Islamization from perhaps the 11th century during the Almoravid movement (which would later result in the Serers of Takrur migration to the south), to the 19th century Marabout movement of Senegambia and continuation of the old Serer paternal dynasties.Serer religion
The Serer religion, or a ƭat Roog ("the way of the Divine"), is the original religious beliefs, practices, and teachings of the Serer people of Senegal in West Africa. The Serer religion believes in a universal supreme deity called Roog (or Rog). In the Cangin languages, Roog is referred to as Koox (or Kooh), Kopé Tiatie Cac, Kokh Kox, etc.The Serer people are found throughout the Senegambia region. In the 20th century, around 85% of the Serer converted to Islam (Sufism), but some are Christians or follow their traditional religion. Traditional Serer religious practices encompass ancient chants and poems, veneration of and offerings to deities as well as spirits (pangool), astronomy, initiation rites, medicine, cosmology and Serer history.Wolof people
The Wolof people (UK: ) are a West African ethnic group found in northwestern Senegal, The Gambia and southwestern coastal Mauritania. In Senegal, the Wolof are the largest ethnic group (~39%), while elsewhere they are a minority. They refer to themselves as Wolof and speak the Wolof language – a West Atlantic branch of the Niger–Congo family of languages.Their early history is unclear and based on oral traditions that link the Wolof to the Almoravids. The earliest documented mention of the Wolof is found in the records of 15th-century Portuguese financed Italian traveller Alvise Cadamosto, who mentioned well established Islamic Wolof chiefs advised by Muslim counselors and divines. The Wolof belonged to the medieval era Wolof Empire of Senegambia region.Details of the pre-Islamic religious traditions of Wolof are unknown, and their oral traditions state them to have been adherents of Islam since the founding king of Jolof. However, historical evidence left by Islamic scholars and European travelers suggest that Wolof warriors and rulers did not convert to Islam, while accepting and relying on Muslim clerics as counselors and administrators. In and after the 18th century, the Wolofs were impacted by the violent jihads in West Africa, which triggered internal disagreements among the Wolof on Islam. In the 19th century, as the colonial French forces launched a war against the Wolof kingdoms, the Wolof people resisted the French and converted to Islam. Contemporary Wolofs are predominantly Sufi Muslims belonging to Mouride and Tijaniyyah Islamic brotherhoods.The Wolof people, like other West African ethnic groups, have historically maintained a rigid, endogamous social stratification that included nobility, clerics, castes and slaves. The Wolof were close to the French colonial rulers, became integrated into the colonial administration, and have dominated the Senegal culture and economy since its independence. They are also referred to as Chelofes, Galofes, Lolof, Jolof, Olof, Volof, Wolluf and Yolof.
Alieu Ebrima Cham Joof
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