Senegal Old History

By | January 2, 2023

Senegal is an independent nation in Western Africa. With the capital city of Dakar, Senegal 2020 population is estimated at 16,743,938 according to countryaah. Today’s Senegal has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In historical times several Wolofriks were formed north of the Gambia River. Europeans came to the area from the mid-1400s and began trading with, for example, slaves. The Wolof kingdoms existed until France took control of the area in the early 1800s. The colonial federation of French West Africa, formed in 1895, a few years later got Dakar as its capital. The country was relatively refreshed. After World War II the demands for self-government grew. Senegal became independent in 1960.

  • Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Senegal, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

Parts of the area that today make up Senegal were periodically linked to the mighty kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhai. The three kingdoms replaced each other between the 300s and 1500s and had their centers further east, mainly in present-day Mali. At the same time, local small kingdoms flourished. For Senegal political system, please check cancermatters.

In the Senegal River valley, around the 8th century, the state of Tekrur was founded, which was mainly populated by tukulas. The Wolof kingdoms lay to the west. One of them, Djolof, succeeded in subjugating the others in the 1300s. This united Wolofrike fell in the 16th century in the former kingdoms, which existed until the conquest of the French in the 19th century. Both the Tukulor and Wolof kingdoms were highly hierarchical. In Casamance in the south, among others, the diola people lived in more equal communities.

The slave trade becomes a major industry

The first Europeans to come to the coast of Senegal were Portuguese sailors and traders. During the 16th century Dutch, French and British were also attracted by the trade in gold, rubber and ivory. But soon, human trafficking became the most important. Slavery had existed for a long time in Africa, but it was when Europeans arrived that it developed into a major industry. Europeans bought prisoners of war and slaves by African rulers and millions of people were shipped from West Africa to plantations in America. Even more lost their lives in trade: in wars and slave raids, during the long marches from inland to coast, and on the journey across the Atlantic. The island of Gorée outside Dakar was for several decades an important place of shipping for slaves, until the French banned the slave trade in 1848.

All the time, Europeans fought for strategic sites along the coast, such as the Gorée and the city of Saint-Louis at the mouth of the Senegal River. It was not until 1814 that France took final control of the area. Peanuts now began to be grown on a large scale and during the second half of the 19th century the French invaded the country during fierce battles with the local rulers.

At the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, the Europeans divided the African continent between themselves. Much of western Africa was allocated to France and in 1895 the colonial federation was formed French West Africa, with Dakar as the capital of 1902.

From colony to independent nation

Unlike British colonial policy, the French aimed to eventually incorporate the colonies into the motherland, as the population embraced French culture and lifestyle. In practice, this so-called assimilation policy was not at all consistent, but it was carried further in Senegal than anywhere else in black Africa. The residents of the “four municipalities” – the island of Gorée and the three largest cities – received basically the same civil rights as the French and in 1914 Senegal was able to send its first black delegate, Blaise Diagne, to the French parliament.

An intellectual and political elite emerged while the majority of the population was completely without rights. After the Second World War, when many Senegalese were forced to fight on the Allies’ side, demands for reform increased. The women in the four municipalities gained voting rights in 1945, one year after the French women, and in 1956 the voting rights were extended to everyone in the colony.

After a referendum two years later, Senegal and most other French colonies became autonomous republics within the newly formed French Commonwealth. But the commonwealth soon dissolved into independent states. On April 4, 1959, Senegal merged with French Sudan (now Mali) in the Mali Federation. On the day a year later, an agreement was signed that led to full independence in June 1960. Already in August of that year, the federation collapsed and on September 5, the independent Republic of Senegal was proclaimed with Léopold Sédar Senghor as president.



The government and the MFDC agree on peace talks

The government and the separatist movement MFDC in Casamance agree on an agenda and a time frame for future peace talks.


The Prime Minister is dismissed

President Sall dismisses Prime Minister Abdou Mbaye. The new head of government will be Aminata Touré, thus leaving the post of Minister of Justice. Aminata Touré has been a leader in the government’s campaign against corruption and has played a leading role in the legal process against Chad’s former dictator Hissène Habré.


The US President is visiting the country

US President Barack Obama visits Senegal. He praises the country as one of the most stable democracies in the region, but criticizes its way of treating gays. Homosexuality is illegal in Senegal and can result in the death penalty.

President Sall receives criticism for his decision-making

President Sall receives criticism – even from his own ranks – for having used 26 decrees as a whole, that is, making decisions without first anchoring them in Parliament.

President Sall is trying to win financial support abroad

President Sall is trying to win financial support overseas for his economic reforms for higher growth and lower unemployment. He visits Qatar, Gabon and the G8 countries in Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister is accused

Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye is accused of handling the money, equivalent to $ 3 million, that Habré illegally brought into Senegal in 1990 during his time as a banker.

Chad’s former dictator is prosecuted

Habré is formally charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture at a special AU tribunal in Dakar. Habré denies all charges. Preparations for the trial are expected to take up to 15 months.


Chad’s former dictator is removed

Chad’s former dictator Hissène Habré (see December 2012) is led by police from his house arrest in Dakar to an unknown location.


The former president is being prosecuted

Karim Wade is charged with embezzling over a billion dollars during his time as Minister in 2000-2012. He is placed in custody without the possibility of being released from bail. The son of the president is suspected of being linked to a number of companies based in so-called tax havens, such as the British Virgin Islands.


At least four people are killed when the MFDC attacks a bank

At least four people, including most civilians, are killed in Casamance when the MFDC attacks a bank in Kafountine.


32-year-old man dies in protest of presidential administration

A 32-year-old man dies as he sets fire to himself outside the presidential palace. Suicide is a protest against President Sall’s rule.

Senegal Old History