by Sherman Lewis

April, 2000  Go to table of contents

Table of Contents
Abstract and Acknowledgment

to January 17, 1999, Sunday, to JFK and Air Afrique
January 18, Monday, la Résidence, Embassy, downtown Dakar
January 19, Tuesday, Gorée Island, Parcelles Assainis, Tostan
January 20, Wednesday, Meetings with leaders, visit Pekine
January 21, Thursday, drive to Simenti, river tour
January 22, Friday, a day in Niokolo Koba Park
January 23, Saturday, home from Mount Assirik
January 24, Sunday, Village Artisanal, fly home


Society: The Three Senegals
The First Senegal; Ethnicity
   Population and the Status of Women
        The Malicounda Bambara Story
        Forestry and Energy
The Second Senegal
    Political history
        The Science behind the planning
        The Plan
    The U.S. and Senegal
The Third Senegal
    Public transit
    Self-help public services
        Report on the Jokkoo - AJC3 Social Center
Senegal on the Web
Maps of Senegal

Sherman L. Lewis III
Professor of Political Science
California State University, East Bay
Hayward CA 94542 USA
510-538-3692 v; /-3693 fax

Abstract: The Three Senegals

Senegal is about the size of Nebraska and sits on the westernmost hump of Africa. Its eight million people are diverse, but broadly divide into three "Senegals." The rural population belongs to many different ethnic groups, the main language being Wolof. Much of the north and east is dry and sparsely populated by herders. The densest farming area is in the central-west, the Peanut Basin. Peanuts, sold to Europe, are a major source of foreign currency, along with phosphates, fish, and tourism. In the last few years women's groups, with help from a development agency, have worked to end female circumcision, developing a capacity for decision-making which is elevating their status.

The second Senegal, the educated French speaking population, is concentrated in Dakar, with a long history going back to the slave trade. The small island of Goree near Dakar was for centuries a major slave trading center. France gradually won the colonial wars and created the state of today, but the nation was created by Leopold Senghor, poet and Senegal's George Washington, leading a socialist party that dominated the government to early 2000, though its philosophy has evolved while in power. Senegal has become America's most important partner in French speaking Africa.

The modern nation has been stressed by overpopulation, over-cultivation of peanuts, overgrazing, and deforestation to the point where the desert, moving south from Mauritania, covers more and more area. Senegal with international help has done interesting research and launched a major program to deal with the problem. Yet refugees from the impoverished countryside have streamed into the cities, especially Dakar, now a major metropolis with large worker suburbs and a colorful but struggling transit system. These newly urbanizing people are the third Senegal, rapidly learning French and modern business, hard working and entrpreneurial, but with many ties to the countryside. Using appropriate technology, another development agency has helped one old city cope with burning stinking trash heaps in poor neighborhoods and developed an affordable water and sewer system.

Senegal's distinctive culture is evident in its dress and in crafts sold to tourists. The unique beauty of the countryside is displayed by the huge, ungainly baobab tree, and, in the south east, a large park, Niokolo Koba, where park rangers are working to protect wildlife from poaching.

Acknowledgments:  Karen Fung, Gray Tappan, and anonymous
Most helpers are acknowledged as I go along, but here I thank Karen Fung for putting my paper on the Stanford site and finding some link and typo problems. I thank Gray Tappan, author of the Environmental Profile of Senegal, the wonderful poster of maps I saw in Col. Diop's office, and of the vegetation maps rainfall trends maps which are part of it. He works for the EROS Data Center of the USGS, whose website is at the end. I thank him for the great work he has done on Senegal, for his appreciation of my lesser efforts, and for not complaining that I used two of his pictures of Baobab trees ("the Baobab Tree" and the one with horses) without attribution. I did not document my sources as I went along, hoping such a informal paper could avoid that extra work. I must therefor also in general acknowledge, and apologize to, other sources of visual images for using their work without attribution. Most of the photos are mine.