The climate to the north is of desert type and tropical to the south with: - a rainy season spreading from June to October, with its highest in August and September, varying according to latitudes (less rainfall to the north as compared to the south).That is the monsoon period. One can only experience a true rainy season in Casamance, the only region where one can see forests worthy of the name; - a dry season running from November to June, running with the continental stream. Temperatures vary according to the seasons: Summer, is the rainy season and is also called “hivernage”. Temperatures are at their highest; In winter, temperatures are at their lowest during the months of January and February. Along the coast, the sea (with the cold canary islands stream) brings in fresh air; temperatures are to the tune of 16° C to 36°C. However, to the center and east of Senegal, temperatures could run up to 46° C.
Languages and Customs.
The official Language is French which is spoken by a sizeable portion of the Senegalese population. There are of course other national languages including Wolof (spoken by 80 % of the population), Serere, Jola, Sonyinkeh, Pular, and Mandingo. You are surely not required to learn the national languages, but may wish to catch a few expressions. Senegalese are quite a sensitive people. For example, for greeting in Wollof:
Good-day ( in Wolof)
Good-day= Nanga Def?= How are you?
What’s up?= Lou bess?
I’m O.K.=Mangi fi-rekk
Bye= Ba Benene.
Thanks= Jerreh Jeff.
Senegal is a non-denominational country essentially composed of Muslims (90%), Christians (5%) and Animists. Muslims are mainly composed of Wolofs, Toucouleurs, Lebous , Peuls and Mandinkas. Islam in Senegal is significant by virtue of its brotherhoods. There are five Brotherhoods: The Mourids, the Tijans,with the greatest number of members, followed by the Khadirs, the Layennes and the Niassennes. The religious leaders of these brotherhoods play very important roles in the religious, political and economic life of Senegal. Christians (5%) and animist are found mostly among the Sereres and the Diolas.
The Senegalese Cuisine
Senegal has the reputation of the best cuisine in West Africa, essentially composed of rice. Rice is the main dish, but there is also millet, which is much cheaper, pounded into semolina or flour. It could be consumed in the form of porridge with milk which is highly recommended for child growth and development. The Beef and mutton here are extremely tasty, but Senegalese them in only limited amounts because they are quite expensive products for them and are replaced by chicken.
The CHUBBBU JENN is the national dish.It is composed of fish, mainly Choff, a variety of vegetables and rice. Choff, Epinepheus aeneeus or bronzegrouper is the most well-known fish in Senegal, mainly for its firm and refined flesh. One of the principal riches of Senegal lies in the variety of its fish resources such as monk-fish, sole,sea-bream,red-carp,carangues. Capitaine, St. Peters,badeches,barracuda, tuna, without forgetting its gambas,lobsters,spider crab....
THE CHEBBU YAPP is a meat dish slowly cooked with rice. Beef and mutton here are very tasty Senegalese consume them only in limited quantities because they are very expensive commodities. They are often replaced with chicken. In the “Dibiteries”, which are small restaurants which serve roast beef and lamb, the spice-coated meat brochettes are delicious.
YASSA is a dish which originated from the Casamance region. It is composed of either chicken, fish or meat , marinated in a sauce of onions,, green pepper and other spices m and served with rice.
MAFFEH is a beef dish composed of an unctuous peanut or ground-nut-butter sauce served with rice .Groundnuts are the main cash-crop and its oil is used in place of butter and perfumes meat and fish alike. At the markets, you find peanuts grilled, raw, salted or caramelised (caked) You also find bread everywhere in the Dakar’s modern bakeries and they will remind you of French bread. In the villages, the country-bread, firewood-baked is smaller in size and most delicious. The most well-known soft drink is the red-flower based “bissap” juice, but you ca also savour the other juices such as tamarind juice,”bouy”or baobab juice, ginger juice, guyava juice, mango juice, ”ditah” juice among others....
FEASTS AND HOLIDAYS
The religious feasts observed as holidays:
The Christian holidays are: Christmas, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost and Assumption.
The Muslim holidays are: Koriteh, Tabadki, Mawlud and Tamkharit. All these Muslim holidays are determined by the Muslim calendar and change dates every year.
There are also other religious and traditional feasts that are not observed as public holidays.
THE TOUBA MAGAL: The Great Magal is the commemoration of the departure into exile of the founder of the Cheikh Amadou Bamba Brotherhood and the Ordinary “Magal” marks his death. These are most impressive pilgrimages.
GAMOU: This is the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet, also characterised by impressive pilgrimages of the Brotherhoods to their respective mosques.
THE CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE TO POPENGUINE: This is marked by Pentecost Monday. It takes place in the south of Dakar, toward the smaller coast known as “La Petite Cote”.
THE LEBOUS’ FEAST: known as the “N’DEUP” which is celebrated to mark the curing of diseases due to witchcraft or possessions due to evil spirits.
THE FEAST OF THE RAINY SEASON: This is celebrated by the SERERE tribe every year, to implore the Almighty for a good Rainy Season.
These traditional feasts are not observed as public holidays.