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Wolofization or Wolofisation is a cultural and language shift whereby populations or states adopt Wolof language or culture, such as in the Senegambia region. In Senegal, Wolof is a lingua franca[1][2][3] The Wolofization phenomenon has taken over all facets of Senegal and encroaching on Gambian soil.[3] This phenomenon has caused other Senegambian ethnic groups great concern and resulted in taking steps to preserve their languages and culture. In this regard, the Serer ethnic group who have had a long history fighting against Islamization and Wolofization have been taking active steps in the past decades by setting up associations and other organisations in order to preserve their languages, culture and "ancient religious past."[4][5][6] Haalpulaar speakers, namely the Fula and Toucouleur have also been taking steps to preserve their language.[7]


Many people argue that since Wolof is the lingua franca in Senegal, it should be the official language.[8]


The Wolofization phenomenon taking place in Senegal and encroaching on Gambian soil has been criticised by many Serer, Mandinka and Haalpulaar (Fula and Toucouleur) intellectuals.[9][4][10][11][12][13] Serer historian and author Babacar Sedikh Diouf view Wolofization as destructive to the languages and cultures of the other Senegambian ethnic groups such as Serer, Jola, Mandinka, Fula, etc., and calls for a "controlled osmosis" between Wolof and other ethnicities. In his view, Diouf regards Wolofization as a form of “uncontrolled” homogenization of Senegal by the Wolof.[11][12][9] His fellow Serer intellectual Marcel Mahawa Diouf, along with Mandinaka intellectual Doudou Kamara, and Haalpulaar intellectuals Yoro Doro Diallo and Cheikh Hamidou Kane share Diouf's sentiments.[9] The historian and author Marcel Mahawa Diouf offers a more drastic solution for dealing with the "Wolofization problem". Since the Wolof are a mixture of the various ethnic groups of the Senegambia region, and that, even their language (the Wolof language) is not actually the language of the Wolof in origin, but the original language of the Lebu people, Marcel Mahawa calls for an alliance between all non-Wolofs who have had historic alliances with each other. In effect, that would be the Serers, Toucouleurs, Soninke people (Sarakolés), Sossés (Mandinka), Jola, and Lebou. The sole purpose of revisitng these ancient alliances (where one tribe calls for help and another answers, commonly known in Senegambia as gamo, from the old Serer term gamohou or gamahou ("to find the lost heart", itself an ancient Serer religious festival[14]) is to disconnect the Wolof thereby disinheriting them from the Senegambia region and its history.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Shiohata, Mariko (2012). "Language use along the urban street in Senegal: Perspectives from proprietors of commercial signs". Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 33 (3): 269–285. doi:10.1080/01434632.2012.656648. S2CID 144044465.
  2. ^ Castaldi, Francesca, Choreographies of African Identities: Négritude, Dance, and the National Ballet of Senegal, University of Illinois Press (2010), pp. 13, 76-8, 124, 154, ISBN 9780252090783 [1]
  3. ^ a b Mwakikagile, Godfrey, Ethnic Diversity and Integration in The Gambia: The Land, the People and the Culture, Continental Press (2010), pp.84, 221, ISBN 9789987932221 [2]
  4. ^ a b Ngom, Pierre; Gaye, Aliou; and Sarr, Ibrahima; Ethnic Diversity and Assimilation in Senegal: Evidence from the 1988 Census, February 2000 [in] the African Census Analysis Project (ACAP), pp. 3, 27, [3] (retrieved March 23, 2020)
  5. ^ Asante, Molefi Kete, Mazama, Ama, Encyclopedia of African Religion, SAGE Publications (2008), p. 846, ISBN 9781506317861 [4]
  6. ^ Diop, Cheikh Anta, The origin of civilization : Myth or reality, (edited and translated by Mercer Cook) Laurence Hill Books (1974), p. 191-9, ISBN 978-1-55652-072-3
  7. ^ Fiona Mc Laughlin, Haalpulaar Identity as a Response to Wolofization, African Languages and Cultures Vol. 8, No. 2 (1995), pp. 153-168, Taylor & Francis Ltd. [in] JSTOR (retrieved March 23, 2020) [5]
  8. ^ Ibrahima Diallo, The Politics of National Languages in Postcolonial Senegal, Cambria Press (2010), p. 75-76, ISBN 9781604977240 (retrieved March 23, 2020) [6]
  9. ^ a b c d Smith, Étienne, La nation « par le côté » - "Le récit des cousinages au Sénégal", (pp. 907-965), 2006 [in] Cahiers d'Études africaine., Notes: 45, 81, 93; Texte intégral: 3, 54, 55, 71. [7] (retrieved March 23, 2020)
  10. ^ Mwakikagile, Godfrey, Ethnic Diversity and Integration in The Gambia: The Land, the People and the Culture, Continental Press (2010), p. 84, ISBN 9789987932221 [8] (retrieved March 23, 2020)
  11. ^ a b École pratique des hautes études (France). Section des sciences économiques et sociales, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Cahiers d'études africaines, vol. 46, issue 4; vol. 46, issue 184, Mouton (2006), pp. 933, 938
  12. ^ a b Smith, Étienne, « Merging ethnic histories in Senegal: whose moral community? », in Derek Peterson & Giacomo Macola (dir.), Recasting the Past: History Writing and Political Work in Modern Africa, Athens, Ohio University Press, 2009, (213-232.), p. 12 (PDF) [in] [9] (retrieved March 23, 2020)
  13. ^ Wolf, Hans-Georg, English in Cameroon, Walter de Gruyter (2013), p. 36, ISBN 9783110849059 [10] (retrieved March 23, 2020)
  14. ^ Diouf, Niokhobaye, « Chronique du royaume du Sine », suivie de Notes sur les traditions orales et les sources écrites concernant le royaume du Sine par Charles Becker et Victor Martin (1972). Bulletin de l'IFAN, tome 34, série B, no 4, 1972, pp 706-7 (pp 4-5), pp 713-14 (pp 9-10)

Further reading