The Wolof people in Senegal and The Gambia
Senegal is a place of peace. In Wolof, our primary greeting is to simply say “jamm rekk” (meaning “peace”) to one another. We pride ourselves on how we live in harmony. Often you will hear people say, “Muslims, Christians, Jews... we are all the same.” But when I became a Christian, things changed. My family rejected me. I was blacklisted from getting a job. Suddenly I was left on my own.
- “Ouseman,” a young Senegalese man
Senegal’s population is 92% Muslim. In north-west Africa this nation is one of the most accepting to Christianity. There are few official restrictions on evangelism and distribution of Christian literature.
However, things are changing.
As Islam tightens its grip on Senegalese people, Christians are facing more and more persecution from Muslims. The Wolof people, in particular, are known for being very resistant to the gospel. The Wolof are the primary people group in both Senegal and Gambia, dominating the government and economy in both nations. The persecution faced by those who convert to Christianity creates fear in others who are seeking the truth. Stories have been told of Christian people dying and being left outside to rot because no one is brave enough to go through with the proper burial services and face persecution for more devout Muslims.
When decisions are made by Wolof people they will often consult a marabout, a religious leader believed to have supernatural powers. The variety of Islam practised in Senegal and Gambia is very integrated with traditional folk religions of the Wolof. Many Wolof see no contradiction between Islam and their traditional beliefs. The accepting attitude of other beliefs creates both an opportunity and a challenge for Christians looking to reach out to the Wolof.
There are believed to be less than 60 Wolof believers in the nation of Senegal, which has a population of almost 13 million.
- Pray that people would continue to be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that Senegal would remain a nation where in law freedom of worship is permitted.
- Pray that Christians in Senegal could band together to impact their communities with the truth.
- Pray that God would call other Africans to reach out to the Wolof, as they will be more receptive to them than to Western missionaries.