Serer royal and religious titles
Royal titles
Lamane (also religious)
Maad a Sinig
Maad Saloum
Line of succession
Religious titles

The Saltigue (other spelling: Saltigué, Saltigui or Saltigi in Serer[1][2]), are Serer high priests and priestesses who preside over the religious ceremonies and affairs of the Serer people, such as the Xooy (or Xoy) ceremony, the biggest event in the Serer religious calendar. They usually come from ancient Serer paternal families, and the title is inherited by birthright.[3][4] In Serer country, Saltigue are always diviners.

Amongst the Fula of Futa Toro, the term Silatigi or Satigi, was also used, borrowed from Mande by the Fula.[5]


In Serer, saltigue and its spelling variation derive from two Serer words: "sal" and "tigui"; sal means "meeting point of two ways, place where one branch branches into two other branches. And by analogy, beam on which the roof of the hut rests." Tigui means "resting the roof of the hut." The combination of these two terms gave its name to "saltigue" (a metaphor).[2] The term is also reported to be of Serer origin meaning "soothsayer".[6] In Serer society, the term is reserved for those who communicate with the invisible world.[6]

In Mande, the term "silatigi" is used, which according to Oumar Kane derives from the Mande term "sili" meaning road, and "tigi" meaning master or leader. Thus, in Mande, the "silatigi" is the one who leads the community in following the right path, physical or spiritual.[5] The Fula borrowed the term from the Mande.[7]

Amongst the Serer Palor people (a subgroup of the Serer), the term "Sili" or "Sili-Sili" is the name for their language, Palor, which is one of the Serer Cangin languages. In their language, "Sili" mean Serer.[8][9][10]

Role of Saltigues in Serer society

The Saltigues were responsible for predicting the future of kings, the weather, any natural disaster or political catastrophe that could befall the country, etc. As such, they were frequently consulted by the Serer kings (the Maad, Maad a Sinig, and Maad Saloum, and previously, the Teigne)[11] preferably at the beginning of the rainy season.[12]

Before a king launched a war, he would consult the great assembly of Saltigues to predict the outcome of the battle.[13][14][15][16]

The assembly of Saltigues would predict the outcome, offer precautionary advice on when to launch the attack, the route to take to the battlefield and the animals to be sacrificed, etc. The role of Saltigue was not political. They were not government ministers or politicians, but spiritual advisors and elders. They are the Serer "hereditary rain priests" – guardians of the Serer religion and customs, a birthright they inherited from their ancient Serer Lamanic ancestors.[12][17]

Raan Festival

In the precolonial period, during the Raan Festival which takes place in Tukar annually on the second Thursday after the onset of the new moon in April, the kings (during the Guelowar period, 1350-1969, and 2019―present) attended the Festival, making their way from the capital of Diakhao. The king was extremely careful never to arrive before the Lamane and always avoided direct encounters with the Lamane of Tukar. Whilst the Lamane was busy meditating, touring Tukar and making offerings to the pangool, Jegan Joof, the Chief Saltigue and his associates drink sum-sum alcohol all morning before the Festival. It is reported that drinking sum-sum improves the Saltigue's vision of the future and the supernatural world. Having prepared himself sufficiently, the Saltigue and his close associates leave the house and mount their horses, then start their own tour of some of the sacred places of the country. The Saltigué's tour is programmed to follow the king, but ultimately to cross his path at a location known as "Nenem". In this location, the king, aware that the Saltigue is coming, stops the royal entourage. The king and the royal entourage must wait for the Saltigue and his companions to pass. After these high priests and priestesses have passed, the king then gives the signal to the royal entourage to pass as they proceed to their next destination. This is the kind of respect that is afforded to the Saltigue.[18]

Some notable Serer Saltigues

(Pre and post independent Senegal)

Silatigi amongst the Fula

The rulers of the Empire of Great Fulo were known as Silatigi. According to Kane, this term, similar to the etymologically related Saltigue, originally meant a religious leader who was privy to the highest secrets of initiation and tasked with performing the rituals necessary to appease the spirits.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Catholic Church. Archdiocese of Kinshasa (Zaire), Aide inter-monastères, Catholic Church. Vie monastique et inculturation à la lumière des traditions et situations africaines: actes du colloque international, Kinshasa, 19-25 février 1989, Archdiocese of Kinshasa (Congo), Archidiocèse de Kinshasa (1989), p. 121
  2. ^ a b Centre d'étude des civilisations, Cahiers du mythe, Issues 4-5, Nouvelles éditions africaines. (1978), p. 21
  3. ^ Henri Gravrand. La Civilisation Seereer. Pangool. Published by Les Nouvelles Edition Africaines du Senegal (1990). ISBN 2-7236-1055-1
  4. ^ Kalis, Simone, "Medecine Traditionnele Religion et Divination Chez Les Seereer Siin du Senegal", L'Harmattan (1997), pp 11–297, ISBN 2-7384-5196-9
  5. ^ a b c Kane, Oumar (2021). "La Formation du Royaume Jaalalo du Kingi par Tenghella". In Fall, Mamadou; Fall, Rokhaya; Mane, Mamadou (eds.). Bipolarisation du Senegal du XVIe - XVIIe siecle (in French). Dakar: HGS Editions. p. 44-5.
  6. ^ a b Ouvrier, Ashley, "Faire de la recherche médicale en Afrique: Ethnographie d'un village-laboratoire sénégalais." Médecines du monde (Contributors: Wenzel Geissler, Anne-Marie Moulin). KARTHALA Editions (2014), p. 200, ISBN 9782811111199
  7. ^ Fall, Mamadou (2021). "Les Terroirs Historiques et la Poussée Soninké". In Fall, Mamadou; Fall, Rokhaya; Mane, Mamadou (eds.). Bipolarisation du Senegal du XVIe - XVIIe siécle (in French). Dakar: HGS Editions. pp. 18, 22.
  8. ^ Paul, Lewis M., ed. (2009). "Paloor". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (16th ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International.
  9. ^ Williams, Gordon (1994). "Intelligibility and language boundaries among the Cangin peoples of Senegal" [1] (PDF). Journal of West African Languages. 24 (1): 47–67.
  10. ^ Ndiaye, Ousmane Sémou, "Diversité et unicité sérères: l'exemple de la région de Thiès." Éthiopiques (1991). 7 (54).
  11. ^ In the Serer language, Maad and very rarely used Maat (though correct) means "king". The Lamanes, – the ancient Serer kings and landed gentry, should not be confused with the post-Guelowar Lamanes who were merely the landed gentry and provincial chiefs answerable to the king. There are two types of Lamanes in Serer chronology : Lamanes pre-Guelowar (the original Lamanes, kings and landowners) and Lamanes during and after the Guelowar period (1350–1969) (mere chiefs and landowners)
  12. ^ a b Sarr 1986, p. 31.
  13. ^ Sarr 1986, p. 31-8.
  14. ^ Diouf, Mahawa, L'information Historique: L'exemple du Siin. Ethiopiques n°54 revue semestrielle de culture négro-africaine. Nouvelle série volume 7 2e semestre 1991
  15. ^ Diouf, Niokhobaye, Chronique du Royaume du Sine, IFAN, commenté par Charles Becker & Victor Martin (1972)
  16. ^ Klein, Martin A., Islam and Imperialism in Senegal Sine-Saloum, 1847–1914. Edinburgh University Press (1968), p 91
  17. ^ Galvan, p. 202
  18. ^ Galvan, Dennis Charles, The State Must Be Our Master of Fire: How Peasants Craft Culturally Sustainable Development in Senegal. Berkeley, University of California Press (2004). pp 202–204
  19. ^ a b c Senegalaisement archive
  20. ^ Sarr, Alioune, Histoire du Sine-Saloum. Introduction, bibliographie et notes par Charles Becker, BIFAN, Tome 46, Serie B, n° 3-4, 1986-1987. p 38
  21. ^ Faye, Diène Faye, "Mort et Naissance le monde Sereer." Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines, 1983, p 59, ISBN 2-7236-0868-9
  22. ^ Faye, Diène Faye, "Mort et Naissance le monde Sereer." Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines, 1983, p 61, ISBN 2-7236-0868-9
  23. ^ The Seereer Resource Centre, Seereer Radio and Seereer Heritage Press, "Our special tribute to Saltigi Biram Pouye." 16 September 1940 (Sanghe, Jooɓaas) - 2 February 2019 (Sanghe) [in] Seereer Radio (9 February 2019)
  24. ^ a b c Faye, Diène Faye, "Mort et Naissance le monde Sereer." Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines (1983), p. 60. ISBN 2-7236-0868-9
  25. ^ Faye, Louis Diène, Mort et Naissance le monde Sereer, Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines, 1983, pp 59-61 ISBN 2-7236-0868-9
  26. ^ Diouf, Mahawa, L'information Historique: L'exemple du Siin. Ethiopiques n°54 revue semestrielle de culture négro-africaine. Nouvelle série volume 7 2e semestre 1991