Senegalese American

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Senegalese American
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Total population
(2013 American Community Survey)[1]
Regions with significant populations
New York City (Harlem, Brooklyn), New Jersey, Chicago (Illinois)
Muslims, Christians and Practitioners of traditional religion of Senegal.
Related ethnic groups
African American, American groups of West Africa (Gambian, Ivorian, Malian, Guinean, etc.), French

Senegalese Americans are Americans of Senegalese descent. In surveys of 2008, some 12,151 people claimed to be of Senegalese descent in the United States. However, many African slaves exported to the United States were also Senegalese (arrived together with other Africans that also came of their Senegalese ports). Thus many African Americans may also have some ancestors of this country.



The first people from day-present Senegal who came to the modern United States were exported as slaves from several slave ports of Senegal to this country. The Senegambia area, during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was an important slave trade, both for the United States and Latin America, exporting many slaves to Americas.[2] Most of slaves who came specifically of day-present Senegal were imported to the modern United States since the Saint-Louis port, followed for the Goree Island (while, some South Carolina planters bought some slaves from Galam).[citation needed] So, the Goree Island, located a few miles off the coast of Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean, was the place from which the Europeans and Americans organized the export of slaves to the United States of America, during the seventeenth and eighteenth, and even after of the official abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century,[3][4] displacing maybe 50,000 slaves people of Africa from there (although according the Slave House curator were exported 20 million of slaves from the Goore island to the modern United States).[4]

However, not all slaves collected from the present-day Senegal were actually from there: many were from other origins that were taken and sold in this place by the kings of other parts of Africa, due to tribal clashes, greed, etc... So, they are purchased and exported to the Americas.[2] While, most Africans sold into slavery in the Senegal region would have departed from that slave zones at the mouths of the Senegal River, to the north, and of the Gambia River, to the south,[3][4] caming from places such as Futa Tooro[5] [note 1] or Bundu.

Regarding specifically to the natives slaves from present-day Senegal, most of them belonged to ethnic groups Mandinga and Fula,[5] but also, to a lesser extent, belonged to Djolas, Wolof, Serer[7] and Bambara peoples,[8] at least. However, most of the Senegal´s slaves were of Islamic religion [4] (as is the case of the Mandingas, Fulbes or the Bambaras). On the other hand, it should be noted also that slaves from Senegambia staged some prominent revolts in the current United States. Thus, in 1765, while the brigantine Hope was bringing slaves from the coast of Senegal and Gambia to Connecticut, the slaves provoked a revolt aboard of the brigantine, leveraging the murder of the captain (who had beaten several of his crewmen) for some crewmen. In the revolt, the slaves killed one crew member and wounded several others. On this day their revolt was suppressed by killing seven of them.[9]

Most of Senegal´s slaves were imported to South Carolina, Georgia and the Gulf Coast (highlighting in Louisiana[10]), followed mainly by Virginia[citation needed] and Maryland.[11] These places had thousands of slaves from day-present Senegal, being a significant minory in the slave population of there (although the slaves from Gambia were more numerous) and quantitatively dominant in Louisiana (along with the slaves from Guinea, between 1712 and 1719, in the early stages of the slave trade to this place)[10][note 2] and North Carolina. Senegalese and Guinean slaves were imported to those places probably because those slaves could favor the rice plantations of those places already that they were familiar with rice plantations which was commonly grown in Senegambia and Guinea.[10][11] [note 3]

Recent immigration[edit]

In the twentieth century voluntary Senegalese emigration to the United States rose again. Most immigrants settled in Manhattan, New York City.[12] Many soon resettled, emigrating to Chicago and other areas. In 1970 arrived groups of students, employees and Senegalese street vendors to United States. These immigrants, in places as the aforementioned Chicago, often engage in commerce during the transition to the other two occupations. However many of Senegalese living in United States also have high professions, such as engineering and accounting.

The number of Senegalese immigrants who arrived to the United States had a higher growth after the implementation of the structural adjustment programs of the 1980s and the devaluation of the CFA currency in Senegal in 1990. However, the changing of migration occurred not only by the increase in numbers of Senegaleses arriving: Until the late 1990s, the majority of Senegalese who emigrated to the United States were young men, but since the end of the decade, women also began to immigrate, working as hairdressers, waitresses in clandestine restaurants and studying in universities.[13]


Currently, the Senegalese population in United States is very diverse, both linguistically and culturally, although the majority of Senegalese are Muslims. Also there Senegalese Christians, animists and who still practice their African beliefs. The Senegalese tend to speak a variety of languages. They speak native languages to Senegal, specially the Wolof, but also French (the national language of Senegal) and English. Senegalese traders in places like Chicago have specialized in African art. However, they also trade in counterfeit goods of designer such as shirts and handbags of Korean and Indian traders. They send their remittances to their families that still living in Senegal and religious organizations in this country.[13]

Senegalese in New York[edit]

In United States one of the largest concentrations of Senegalese is in the state of New York, in where they are one of the four main Muslim groups from Africa and one of its major enclaves is the neighborhood Little Senegal or Le Petit Senegal, also varied linguistically. They form the majority in a particular area of Harlem (116th Street between St. Nicholas and 8th Avenues). However, the majority of Senegalese of this neighborhood grew up poor in small villages in Senegal, where they did not receive one educated, so they do not usually go to schools in Harlem. The most educated Senegalese usually do not live in that neighborhood, preferring places such like New Jersey. Due to the size of the Senegalese community in Little Senegal, there also some Wolof´s interpreters who volunteer at the Harlem Hospital. The Wolof language be extend throughout the neighborhood, including in the Senegalese food restaurants, which handle both English and Wolof. In addition, currently, most Senegalese are owners of shops, jewelry stores, taxis, travel agencies and companies professionals. Senegalese people have successfully assimilated into the American culture while still maintaining their native language, Wolof. Preserving this language helps unify and strengthen the small community in Harlem known as 'Little Senegal'.[12]

Media and Senegalese Publications[edit]

Senegal conducted a relations program with community Senegalese in United States, so, many publications written in this country such as newspapers, magazines and brochures or restaurant menus from Senegal, are sent into the community via email. Most information comes through newsletters, but not there many bulletins of this type. The newsletters are about the events that occur in Senegal. However, there are also three Senegalese programs that are broadcast by radio stations, one of them is called Voices of America. The programs are heard within an hour every Sunday and the radio announcers often speak Wolof. The newsletters are written mostly in French, although there is, also, one of them written in Wolof. Many others people also are learning Wolof in that Columbia University. There are also organizations that support the recognition of Senegalese nationality or his activism in the United States, as the which does the Association of Senegalese in America (ASA). ASA used to have a FM radio´s station, one broadcast that debated the way in which the Senegalese of United States should cooperate in his community and the kind of life that there in United States.[12]


A association created by Senegalese immigrants is called Tuba Da'ira Chicago in Rogers Park (Chicago), a Muslim association. People who belong to this organization are the disciples of the Murid tariqa (Arabic: Muslim Sufi order). Most of the current members of Da'ira are people who have just arrived from New York to Chicago looking for better markets and better educational opportunities. The Da'ira has held numerous activities in Chicago. The murids usually meet every week to sing the Litany of her wali (Arabic: the friend of God or holy leader) Cheikh Amadou Bamba DIOP. The Da'ira holds an annual conference with the African American Muslim community and Arab in Chicago. In 1997, The City of Chicago stated that on August 13, was Cheikh Amadou Bamba Day The Da'ira also allows the visit of a Murid marabout, a spiritual leader of Senegal and a number of Islamic scholars. The Murid tariqa also developed an exchange program with American Islamic College in Chicago.[13]


  1. ^ Futa Tooro was, in indeed, an of the main proslavery Kingdoms of West Africa during the colonial period of the Americas.[6]
  2. ^ So, many Senegambian slaves of Louisiana were Wolof and Bambaras people in the eighteenth century.[8]
  3. ^ In addition to the five main places of import of slaves from day-present Senegal in the modern United States, in the rest of the country only were imported less than 5% of the slaves from this place, arriving to places such as New York or Pennsylvania (in these places only were imported hundreds of Senegambian slaves). So, although the Senegalese yeah were the most of the slaves in North Carolina, lived there only 544 slaves. They also were the most of the Senegambian slaves in New York and New York and Florida.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2013 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b De Senegal a Talcahuano: los esclavos de un alzamiento en la costa pacífica (1804). - (in Spanish: From Senegal to Talcahuano: an uprising of slaves on the Pacific coast (1804)).
  3. ^ a b Estados Unidos de América: Información general sobre los Estados Unidos de América (in Spanish: United States: Overview of United States).
  4. ^ a b c d The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Senegal Slave House's past questioned.
  5. ^ a b Omar ibn Said (1831). "Autobiography of Omar ibn Said, Slave in North Carolina, 1831". University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
  6. ^ EL ELEMENTO SUBSAHÁRICO EN EL LÉXICO VENEZOLANO (in Spanish: The Subsaharian element in the Venezolan lexicon).
  7. ^ Transatlantic linkage: The Gullah/Geechee-Sierra Leone Connection. Retrieved December 29, 2011, to 20:51 pm.
  8. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion, Volumen 2. Writing by Junius P. Rodriguez
  9. ^ Austin Meredith (2006). "The Middle Passage Traffic in Man-Body" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-02-20. 
  10. ^ a b c Africans and Their Descendants in the Americas: Restoring the Links Using Historical Documents and Databases. Retrieved October 14, 2012, to 20:20 pm.
  11. ^ a b Uncovering African Roots. DNA Tests, New Technology Reveal African Heritage. Retrieved September 8, 2012, to 16:45 om.
  12. ^ a b c "New York Voices". New York University. 2001. Retrieved 15 May 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c Encyclopedia of Chicago: Senegaleses in Chicago. Posted by Beth Anne Buggenhagen. Retrieved September 3, 2012, to 1:47 pm.

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