Customs and traditions
Different ethnic groups have different
customs and traditions, but some customs are common to
most Senegalese, possibly with the exception of the
residents of the southern province of Casamance. The
sense of thiossane - history and tradition - is strong.
A central concept is teranga, which means welcome or
hospitality on wolof.
Teranga is considered so basic Senegalese that the
national football team goes by the name of Lions of
Teranga. A national symbol is the baobab tree, which has
often been a gathering place for advice and socializing
in the villages.
Overview of the capital city of Senegal, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
For Senegalese it is important to maintain their
dignity and to show good behavior. You greet each other
properly by shaking hands, often for a long time. It is
more common for men and women to touch each other than
in many other Muslim countries, with the exception of
strictly religious persons. Close friends can embrace
each other, or exchange three cheek kisses beginning
with the left cheek. A greeting ceremony is happy to
extend the time - it is important to inquire about each
other's health and well-being, how the family is
feeling, etc. If you meet several times the same day,
the procedure is repeated. Anyone who tries to hurry or
skip the greeting is perceived as rude.
Even in conversations, Senegalese can be perceived as
a bit cumbersome for a Westerner. You often use speech
and parables, and avoid appearing as burdus or too
Gifts are of no great importance. Anyone who is
invited home by someone can bring some chocolate,
pastries or fruit in nice packaging. It is important to
hand over the gift with both hands, or with just the
Food and meals
Before a meal, a sink is often brought out for hand
washing. Social hierarchies control placement at the
dining table. As a guest, you are wise to wait to be
assigned a place by the host. The food is traditionally
served from a common bowl, placed on the floor or on a
low table. You eat with your right hand, stick to your
side of the bowl and do not start before the oldest man
in the company. If you are sitting on the floor you
should have your legs crossed and keep your feet away
from the food. It is important to leave some food in
their part of the bowl, or on their plate, to show that
you are satisfied.
Basic food for many is rice, preferably cooked with
strong spices and vegetables. Fish and chicken are
common, and peanuts have a central place in the kitchen.
On festive occasions, you may eat lamb or beef.
Thiéboudienne (or chep-bu-jen) is rice and
fish in a vegetable sauce, and something of a national
dish. Maffé is a pot of peanut sauce and tomato
puree, as well as vegetables and fish, meat or chicken.
Yassa is grilled chicken or fish that has been
marinated with lemon and onion. After the meal you drink
a lot of mint.
Traditional clothing for men is the kaftan, a wide
long skirt that reaches down to the ankles. Under the
kaftan you have pants that are held up with drawstrings.
The women's clothing suits are often wrapped a little
closer to the body and the fabrics are often patterned
in strong colors. Many who usually dress in Westerns
choose traditional costume on solemn occasions.
Weekends and holidays
An important holiday is Independence Day on April
4th. Military parades and festivals mark the
independence of France in 1960. Other non-religious
holidays are New Year's Day on January 1 and Labor Day
on May 1.
Muslim celebrations celebrated are the birthday of
the Prophet Muhammad or mawlid al-nabi, id al-fitr (in
Senegal called the Kority) which is the feast
at the end of the fixed month of Ramadan, the
sacrificial feast id al-adha (tabaski) and the
Islamic New Year (tamkharit). A local Muslim
festival that became official holiday 2012 is the grand
magal de Touba, the great pilgrimage to the holy city of
the Mourides Touba.
They all fall on different dates each year, as Islam
follows a lunar calendar. Christian holidays that are
observed are Easter Sunday, Ascension Day, Pentecost
Pentecost, Marie Ascension (August 15), Halloween and
Dakar is an important international hub. A
large number of airlines use the Senegalese capital as a
regional hub. The road and rail network is based on
Dakar, which also has an important transit port for
Dakar-Leopold Sédar Senghor International Airport is
one of the largest in Africa. In 2017, a new major
international airport, Blaise Diagne, was opened five
miles east of Dakar, which is intended to strengthen the
city's position as a hub for intercontinental flights.
In addition, there are a handful of domestic airports in
the country and a dozen smaller airports.
The road network is relatively well developed. New
highways, some of them with tolls, have been built in
recent years, including between Dakar and Diamniadio, as
part of President Macky Sall's rush to new
There is a rail link east from Dakar to Mali's
capital Bamako, and a line goes north, via Thiès, to
Saint-Louis near the Mauritania border. Most of the
country's railways are single-track and quite outdated.
A new express train line TER is under construction. The
first section between Dakar and a new "futuristic" city
of Diamniadio will be inaugurated in 2019. It will then
be extended to Blaise Diagne Airport.
The port of Dakar is one of the largest and most
modern in West Africa. It has great capacity to receive
containers and also holds a fishing port. Traffic on the
Senegal, Saloum and Casamance rivers is also important.
A new bridge across the Gambia River at Farafenni
facilitates communications between Senegal and Gambia,
but also between northern Senegal and Casamance in the
south. It should now be possible to travel from Dakar to
Ziguinchor in five hours.