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The Secrets of Africa’s Magnificent People (The Wolof People)

The Secrets of Africa’s Magnificent People (The Wolof People)

The Wolof People

The Wolof people are an ethnic group in different parts of Africa, they form about 43.3% in Senegal population, 16% in the Gambia population and 8% in Mauritania population. The Wolof group has influenced several cultures because of their dominance in any country’s capital they belong to. In northwest Senegal, this important "Wolof" language is a West Atlantic language majorly used as the language of farm trade. This is because about 80% of the population understands it. The Origin of Wolof into Senegal begun in the 11th century with the alliance formed by the Mandingo, Sereer and Fula people who originated from Egyptian civilization. At the 15th century, they sojourned from the Djolof region and divided into the Walo, Baol, Cayor, Sine and Saloum towns.

The 18th - 19th Century

Sadly during the 18th-19th century the era when the slave trade was heavy, most members of these tribes were wiped off by the French colony, including the last king of the Wolof Kingdom, King Lat Dior. After these, the Wolof people lived and identified themselves solely by blood relationships; freemen, slave descendants and artisans. The survivors of these gruesome events had to live as slaves until 1815 when the slave trade became illegal. In the late 19 century, some of these families migrated from the east and started settling in with the marabouts in different regions. Settling with the marabouts met imbibing their culture and traditions hence 99.9% of Wolof people became Muslim.

Characteristics Of The Wolof People

  • The Wolof people are very dark-skinned, tall, proud, regal-looking people. 
  • Though the Wolofs have been heavily influenced by the West they, however, have the most highly developed sense of identity among the people of Senegal.
  • During the course of their history, the Wolof have absorbed many traits such as language from other cultures. Thus they share a variety of cultural characteristics with their neighbours.
  • Religion-wise they have a style of Islam that makes them different from other Muslim societies. The Wolof Muslim society practices a level of religion different from orthodox Islam. For example; they wear charms as protection, use black magic, make sacrifices to spirits and occasionally perform an exorcism. 

Wolof woman during a traditional ceremony

A Wolof woman

Even their ceremonies contain distinct elements tailored to their traditions. In Wolof society, the number of wives and the luxuries items each house has, counts has wealth.

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