Collection Description

Culture Name

Wolof

Culture Description

The Wolof constitute a large ethnic group inhabiting the West African countries of Senegal and Gambia. "Wolof" is a self-ascribed name for the people and their language. Concentrated between the Senegal and Gambia rivers, the Wolof have their origins in a 14th century political federation known as the Dyolof Empire. They were subjugated by the French at the end of the 19th Century and gained their independence under the new state of Senegal in 1960. The basic subsistence crop is millet and the main cash crop is peanuts. A relatively rigid, complex socio-political system consists of a series of hierarchically ranked kin groups.

Note

Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.

Region

Africa --Western Africa

Countries

Gambia, The

Senegal

OWC Code

MS30

Number of Documents

45

Note: Select the Collection Documents tab above to browse documents.

Number of Pages

3104

Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Wolof file contains 42 documents, 22 in English, 20 English translations from the French, and two sources in French. The major ethnographies in the file are Gamble's general survey of Wolof culture (Gamble 1957, no. 1), Ames's study of polygamy (Ames 1953, no. 8), Irvine's examination of the caste system (Irvine 1973, no. 43), Venema's look at rural communities and development (Venema 1978, no. 48), and Diop's study of the family (Diop 1985, no. 57). Other major works include a collection of oral narratives (Magel 1984, no. 47) and Diop's historical study of Wolof sociopolitical organization (Diop 1981, no. 58). Brief general accounts of Wolof culture include Fayet (1939, no. 4), Campistron (1939, no. 5), Gamble (1949, no. 14), Audiger (1961, no. 15), and Rousseau (1932, no. 18). Another general account is Suret-Canale's geographical survey (Suret-Canale 1948, no. 6). The file has great time depth with travel and other accounts dating from the 1740s up to 1900 (Adanson 1759, no. 13; Pruneau de Pommegorge 1789, no. 32; Poix 1954 (1822), no. 22; Boilat 1853, no. 39; Faidherbe 1889, no. 34; Lasnet 1900, no. 27.) In addition there are a number of sources which are edited historical accounts by native Wolof, with references going back to the 16th century (Rousseau 1929, no. 28; 1932, no. 29; 1933, no. 30; 1941, no. 37; Gaden 1912, no. 38.) Studies of social relations and organization include studies of work groups (Ames 1959, no. 2), age-brotherhoods (Robin 1945, no. 20), kin relationships (Labouret 1941, no. 31), marriage (Chaba 1952, no. 3) and women (Falade 1963, no. 42). Colvin has written about 19th century Jihads (Colvin 1974, no. 55) and traditional authority (Colvin 1986, no. 56). Irvine has written several articles examining the historical accuracy of Wolof genealogies (Irvine 1990, no. 51), use of emotional expression in speaking (Irvine 1990, no. 52), indexing of inequality in everyday interactions (Irvine 1989, no. 53), and on verbal expression and class (Irvine 1978, no. 54). A related linguistic s tudy is by Swigert (1994, no. 59), who has written about urban speech styles. There are two other linguistic studies, one on proverbs (Gamble 1991, no. 50) and the other on folklore (Ames 1958, no. 10). Other topics covered in the file include food exchange among children (Zempleni-Rabain 1973, no. 46), witchcraft (Ames 1959, no. 9), and naming ceremonies (Gamble 1991, no. 49). Two authors look at the occupational groups of jewelry-makers (Thiam 1954, 21) and fishermen (Leca 1935, no. 7). For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in the file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

This culture summary is based on the article, "Wolof," by Robert O. Lagacé, in the Encyclopedia Of World Cultures, Vol. 9. 1995. John Middleton and Amal Rassam, eds. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall & Co. Population figures were updated by Ian Skoggard in June, 1998. Recent additions to the Wolof file (nos. 47-59) were selected with the recommendations of Judith Irvine.

BAADOOLO--peasants--565, 241

BAOL--Wolof chiefdom--631

BARKE--success or fortune--554

BAROOM-KËR--family head--596, 595, 592

BOROM DAAY--see LAMANE

CAYOR--Wolof chiefdom--631

chiefdom/cercle--631

CNRA--an agricultural extension service--654

DAARA--religious center--792, 346

DEUM--a witch--754

ESCALE--legally approved trading center--366

GÉÉR--caste of landowners and agriculturalists--564

GANDU--two or more conjugal units which share labor--596, 564, 476

GARMI--nobles--565

GEENIO--people descended from a common ancestor--613, 614

grand DIARAF--lineage head and representative (to chief )--613

JËF-LEKK--artisans--463, 564

JAAM--slave--567

JÀMBUR--notables, chiefs--565, 631

KEUR (KEURGOUMAK)--a household--592

LAMANE--lineage elders--613

le chef de famille--family head--596

le chef de ménage--household head--592

marabout--Islamic leader, priest--593

NAVETANE--migrant agricultural worker--464

NEENO--inferior castes--564

NOOLE--courtisans, servants, clowns--564

SËRIN--priests--793

SAB-LEKK--songsters--533

SALOUM--Wolof chiefdom--631

SINE--Wolof chiefdom--631

SJARI'A--Islamic law--795, 779

Sociétés Indigenès de Prévoyance (SIP)--a para-administrative organization to aid indegenous agricultural production--654, 647

SODEVA--an agricultural extension service--654

SURGA--junior members of family--596

TAALIBE--followers of a brotherhood, the faithful, acolytes--794

TARIGHA--religious brotherhood or sect--794

TIEDO--soldiers of the chief's family--701

WALO--Wolof chiefdom--631

114 This culture summary is based on the article, "Wolof," by Robert O. Lagacé, in the Encyclopedia Of World Cultures, Vol. 9. 1995. John Middleton and Amal Rassam, eds. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall & Co. Population figures were updated by Ian Skoggard in June, 1998. Recent additions to the Wolof file (nos. 47-59) were selected with the recommendations of Judith Irvine.

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