chapter  5
28 Pages

Popular Culture in Senegal: Blending the Secular and the Religious

ByFALLOU NGOM

Traditional Senegalese culture has undergone perpetual metamorphoses since the colonial era as the result of internal and external forces. The reverence of secular and religious fi gures is often expressed through popular behavioral, linguistic and cultural practices. One of the most salient cultural developments in Senegal over the last two decades is the spread of the Muridiyya Sufi order’s cultural artifacts through popular culture as youngsters (from various ethnic and religious backgrounds) become increasingly the prime users of Murid-inspired clothing, music, and patterns of speech. Besides, the geographical location of Senegal, the numerous Senegalese expatriates living in Europe and North America (regularly moving back and forth), and the continuing availability of the Internet throughout the country have enabled global waves of popular music (such as blues, jazz, salsa, reggae, hip-hop and rap) and the cultural artifacts that come along with them (clothing, hairstyle, speech patterns, mannerisms and graffi ti) to blend with traditional Senegalese culture and music. This chapter provides an overview of the forces that have engendered and shaped Senegalese popular culture since the country’s independence in 1960, and examines the factors that underlie the diffusion of Murid artifacts in the mainstream popular culture.