For over 1000 years, the Senegal River's bridges have been
populated by Muslim people who were in contact with
neighboring Arab countries. Different geographical zones in
these countries make up the so-called Sahel Belt that
extends across Africa. According to
Uloof the people who today make up a third of the total
population of Senegal, Fulani, Tuccles and other peoples
already lived in the area when in the 18th century France
occupied it and included it in the classic triangle trade:
European goods were exchanged for slaves, sent to the
American continent where they were exchanged for rum and
sugar for Europe.
When the French Revolution abolished slavery in 1848, the
Senegalese became "second class citizens" within the empire
with the right to elect a deputy to Paris. In addition,
Senegal contributed its production of thousands of tons of
peanuts and soldiers to the French army.
In the second half of the 19th century, Muslim leaders
continued to revolt. It was not until 1892 that the French
succeeded in "pacifying" the country.
Around 1933, the idea of pan-Africanism developed in
Paris, and poets Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal and Aimé
Césaire of Martinique formulated the concept of " negritude
", a rejection of cultural assimilation into French
civilization which claimed to be "universal". "Negritude"
was designed as an "instrument of liberation". The purpose
was according to. Senghor, to "free oneself from the
pittoresque and be part of the present solidarity movement".
So organize yourself politically.
Senghor had been active in the resistance struggle
against the Nazis in France during World War II, and in 1945
was elected deputy to the French National Assembly. In 1948,
he founded the Senegal Democratic Block, later renamed
Senegal's Progressive Union. It advocated greater autonomy
for the colonies, but without requiring independence.
On April 4, 1960, Senegal declared itself independent to
declare itself a republic on September 5 of that year.
Senghor was named the country's first president, and by a
series of re-elections he remained in power for the
following two decades. On January 1, 1981, he was replaced
in the post by Abdou Diouf, who until then had been prime
During his 20 years in power, Senghor unfolded a form of
"African socialism " based on the idea that the traditional
agricultural community is fundamentally collectivist. He
believed that "socialism" already existed in Africa and that
it was therefore not necessary to build it. Within the
context of the world economy, this "collectivism" aimed to
provide cheap labor for the export-oriented agriculture
(peanuts and cotton) controlled from abroad. At the same
time, the industry in Senegal was in French hands 82%.
In anticipation of future political changes in France,
Senghor requested membership in the Socialist International,
and implemented a constitutional reform that would provide a
basis for a limited democracy based on three parties: the
Liberal Democratic Senegal Democratic Party (PDS), the
Marxist African Party for Independence. and his own, which
was named Senegal's Socialist Party (PSS).
During the 1980s, President Diouf increased the
flexibility of the formerly rigid political system: more
than 14 political organizations emerged, preventing the main
opposition party PDS led by Abdoulaye Wade from uniting the
At the same time, in 1982, in the southern province of
Casamance, a separatist movement emerged: Casamance's
Movement of Democratic Forces (MFDC), led by abad Austin
Diamacoune Senghor. The people in this area belong
predominantly to the diol people, are animists,
have traditionally demanded autonomy and have refused to
submit to the hierarchical Islamic communities in the north.
Following several clashes with police forces, several of the
movement's leaders were arrested in December - including
Over the past 20 years, the country's economy has been
hit hard by repeated droughts. This has contributed to
desertification, which is mainly due to climatic conditions
and the French's replacement of traditional food crops with