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Wolof Communities and Culture Essay

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Updated: Jan 30th, 2019


Wolof is one of the major ethnic groups in West African countries, particularly in Senegal. The largest Wolof ethnic group consists of fifteen communities or sub-ethnic groups and occupies a part of Senegal and Gambia. In Senegal, this group is the biggest one in both the population and political affiliations.

Wolof is a common name for the entire sub-ethnic group given that the indigenous people of the communities speak the dialect. However, in West Africa, the widely spoken language is French. Thus, it remains the official language in Senegal and Gambia where Wolof is found. Besides, Wolof distinctly comes out as the only vernacular in Senegal and Gambia where the communities hold a greater degree of ethnical identity and pride.

The land organization in Wolof communities

Land is considered a critical resource in most African communities because it forms the basis of the communities’ livelihood. In fact, Wolof traditionally consists of agriculturalists, thus, farming is the major economic activity, in particular, crop farming. The success of this farming type depends on the quantity of land the family or community owns. Therefore, the manner in which land is divided among individuals and communities appeared to be important.

As indicated, Wolof communities divide their lands between individuals and clans. At the individual level, men are allowed to possess land only after reaching a particular social class. In most cases, free men are the only people allowed to do that. It could be said that the men control the use as well as the management of the land. Under the land tenure system, the head of the household is the only person allowed to lease land and receive rental fee.

However, the traditional systems of land ownership have changed overtime with the introduction of modern farming techniques and state laws. The new regulations specify the forms of land ownership which has currently been transferred to the government. In this regard, the government abolishes the rent and tributes levied on land by landowners.

The types of relationships between parents and children in Senegal

Traditional beliefs, values and practices determine the types of relationships existing between parents and children. Like most traditional societies, the Senegalese mothers take caring of their children.

As a result, children and their parents develop a strong bond. Traditionally, men are allowed to marry many wives and as such, each wife has the responsibility of caring of the children. The kind of bond created during the early stages in child development is exhibited during the adolescence period. Hence, adolescent boys and girls find it easy to discuss intricate issues such as future education plans with their mothers.

It is founded on the fact that there is a close relationship created between parents and children during the childhood. Similarly, the traditional beliefs that sons are supposed to be closer to their fathers determine the kind of relationships between men and their sons. The same explanations could also be attributed to the closeness being observed between girls and their mothers. In essence, traditional values, beliefs and practices presuppose the type of family relationships.

Political organization of Kondorong

Kondorong was one of the kingdoms in Wolof. The political organization of Kondorong was similar to the ways other kingdoms in Wolof communities were arranged. In fact, the Kondorong kingdom was an aristocratic state headed by a king or an emperor.

The king and their families were very special, sacred and occupied the top ranks in every social class. It should be mentioned that the king or the emperor ruled with the help of the advisory council that consisted of clan elders, rich merchants, and scholars. The advisory council also included ministers responsible for running various economic activities in the kingdom.

Kondorong was divided into social classes with the royal family occupying the top social ladder while the slaves were found at the lowest level. Within the spectrum were the free men, lower free men, and the solders. The free men belonged to the rich traders, merchants, and scholars.

They had additional privileges that included collecting annual contributions, possession of firearms, slaves and horses. Generally, the free men were rich and educated. On the other hand, the lower free men were talented and skilled people such as weavers, blacksmith and musicians. The soldiers were held high above the free men since their role was to protect the kingdom.

The roles of men, women and children in Kirikou

In the children cartoon, the tasks performed by men are similar to the roles men play in real societies. In fact, men are concerned with protection as well as providing the necessities for the family. In a real society, the roles played by men are the same irrespectively of the community.

Such responsibilities are portrayed in the children’s play, but the only difference is that the roles of men in the cartoon are exaggerated. Similarly, the roles of women such as bringing up the children and looking after the household in the play are similar to the real world. In essence, the responsibilities of both men and women portrayed are reflections of everyday tasks that they perform in real societies, particularly speaking about the Wolof communities.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Wolof Communities and Culture." January 30, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/wolof-communities-and-culture/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Wolof Communities and Culture'. 30 January.

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