Saint-Louis: Religious Pluralism in the Heart of Senegal

by David Robinson with assistance from Ghislaine Lydon, Kalala Ngalamulume and others

Interviews

Interview with Umar Sarr

Interview with Umar Sarr

Date: 1985
David Robinson interviewed Umar Sarr in 1985. This interview focuses on...

Images

Bu El Moghdad

Bu El Moghdad

Date: 1861
The Seck family was one of two leading Saint-Louis families who combined distinction in Islam, close ties with Mauritanian clerical families, and close affiliation with the French presence; they combined these three relationships without any apparent problem, and were a great boon to the colonial enterprise. Their home in the town often served as a reception area for distinguished Moors who were visiting Saint-Louis.

The first distinguished member of the family was Bu-El-Mogdad (1826-80), also called Dudu Seck. He became the chief translator of Arabic Correspondence for the French and, more briefly, the Qadi of the Muslim Tribunal of the town. He is shown here in a formal robe with his French medals pinned conspircuously on this chest; this was a posed shot, taken in about 1860, at the same time that he accomplished the pilgrimage to Mecca with French support - a journey that he accomplished with the expressed purpose of creating a rival pilgrimage to the conspicuous one of Al-hajj Umar.

A second distinguished member of the family was his son, also called Bu-El-Mogdad (I usually call him Bu-El-Mogdad II) and Dudu Seck. He had the same schooling, mainly in southern Mauritania, and the skills in speaking Hassaniyya, the Arabic dialect of Mauritania. His main service to the French cause came in the 1890s and early 1900s as the Europeans sought to create a colony in Mauritania.
Al-Hajj Malik Sy

Al-Hajj Malik Sy

Date: 1912
This picture was taken by a colonial government photographer about 1912 in Tivaouane,the headquarters of the well-known Tijaniyya Sufi leader Malik Sy, and then published in Paul Marty, "Etudes sur l'Islam au Senegal," vol 1 (1917).
Justice Palace

Justice Palace

Date: 1985
The Palace of Justice where most cases were adjudicated.
Governor's Palace

Governor's Palace

Date: 1985
Government House in the center of the island of Saint-Louis. In the late 19th century the French built this elaborate administrative center for their operations in Senegambia and Mauritania. This was the headquarters and residence of the French Governor of Senegal. It was built to house the offices of administration for Senegal.
Typical Street Scene (North)

Typical Street Scene (North)

Date: 1985
Typical street scene in Saint-Louis (North).
New Mosque

New Mosque

Date: 1985
New mosque on the island of Saint-Louis (North).
Typical Street

Typical Street

Date: 1985
Typical street on the island of Saint-Louis.
Headquarters of Maurel and Prom firm

Headquarters of Maurel and Prom firm

Date: 1985
This is a typical commercial store, with the warehouse and store located on the ground floor, and living quarters above. This is in the Nord or north quarter of the island, near the main branch (Grand Bras) of the river.
Catholic Church, side

Catholic Church, side

Date: 1985
This is the main church of the island, located in the South across from the Governor's Palace, and host to the largely Christian and metis community of the town.
Government School for the Aristocracy

Government School for the Aristocracy

Date: 1985
The "Ecole des Fils de Chefs et Otages" was created by the French colonial government in the 19th century to train chiefs and other members of the aristocracy. Later it was called the "Ecole des Fils de Chefs et Interpretes."
19th Century Commercial Houses and Warehouses

19th Century Commercial Houses and Warehouses

Date: 1987
19th century commercial houses and warehouses on the main branch of the river (Grand Bras).
Crowd Gathering at the Public Square

Crowd Gathering at the Public Square

Date: 1987
Crowd gathering on the grounds of the Government Headquarters.
Street Scene facing South

Street Scene facing South

Date: 1987
Typical street scene on the South (Sud) quarter of the island.
19th Century Mosque

19th Century Mosque

Date: 1987
19th century mosque in the North (Nord) quarter of the island, built in the 1840s after considerable pressure from the Muslim community.
Catholic Cemetery

Catholic Cemetery

Date: 1987
The Catholic community established a second cemetery at Sor, on the mainland east of the main river branch, in the early 20th century, after the cemetery on the island was full.
Canoe Team

Canoe Team

Date: 1987
Canoe team in uniform preparing for canoe races on the small branch (Petit Bras) of the river. The canoe teams were primarily located in the fishermen's quarter of Guet Ndar. The local word for canoe is "pirogue."
Chamber of Commerce

Chamber of Commerce

Date: 1987
The Saint-Louis Chamber of Commerce brought together the largely French companies operating in the region.
Omar Sarr

Omar Sarr

Date: 1994
Omar Sarr at his home.
General Council Building

General Council Building

Date: 1994
In the 1880s the General Council constructed this building, housing its meeting rooms and offices, on the main branch of the river.
Catholic Church, from rear

Catholic Church, from rear

Date: 1994
This is a rear view of the Catholic Church, opposite the Governor's Palace and in the South (Sud) quarter, often called the "cathedral."
Monument of Faidherbe

Monument of Faidherbe

Date: 1994
Louis Leon Cesar Faidherbe, governor from 1854-61 and 1863-5, created many of the institutions of colonial Senegal and Mauritania
Chamber of Commerce 1994

Chamber of Commerce 1994

Date: 1994
The Saint-Louis Chamber of Commerce brought together the largely French companies operating in the region.
Muslim Tribunal, side

Muslim Tribunal, side

Date: 1994
Under Governor Faidherbe, the French built a Muslim Tribunal where Islamic law would be practiced and opened this court in 1857.
Muslim Tribunal

Muslim Tribunal

Date: 1997
Under Governor Faidherbe, the French built a Muslim Tribunal where Islamic law would be practiced and opened this court in 1857.

Gallery 7: Diplomacy

Images from Essay 7: Diplomacy

Gallery 3: The Christian Community

Images from Essay 3: The Christian Community

Gallery 2: A Secular and Republican Administration

Images included in the second essay of the project

Gallery 8: Images Not Used in Essays

Other images in this collection that were not specifically mentioned or referenced in any essays.

Gallery 1: Saint Louis -- An Overview of the City

Images and maps of Saint Louis included in the first essay of project.

Gallery 6: Muslim Education and Changing Sufi Identities

Images from Essay 6: Muslim Education and Changing Sufi Identities
Muslim Cleric (

Muslim Cleric ("Marabout") Arriving in Saint-Louis

A postcard from the Senegal National Archives, created for a French audience in about 1900.

Gallery 5: The Muslim Tribunal

Images from Essay 5: The Muslim Tribunal

Gallery 4: The Muslim Community

Images from Essay 4: The Muslim Community

Documents

Bou El Moghdad's letter to Flize, Director of Political Affairs

Bou El Moghdad's letter to Flize, Director of Political Affairs

Date: 1860
Bu-El-Mogdad's statement to the Director of Political Affairs in 1860 explaining the rationale for administration support of his pilgrimage to Mecca
Mothers of Saint-LouisMothers of Saint-Louis

Mothers of Saint-Louis

Date: 1887
In 1887, Christian citizens of Saint-Louis sent this letter to the colonial governor.
Mothers of Saint-Louis

Mothers of Saint-Louis

Date: 1887
In 1887, Christian citizens of Saint-Louis sent this letter to the colonial governor.
Sample page from Register of the Muslim Tribunal

Sample page from Register of the Muslim Tribunal

Date: 1997
A sample page of summaries of cases by the qadi (judge) of the Muslim Tribunal, late 19th century

Maps

Map of Saint-Louis

Map of Saint-Louis

Saint-Louis at the end of the 19th century.
Map of the Senegalo-Mauritanian Zone

Map of the Senegalo-Mauritanian Zone

Senegalo-Mauritanian Zone around Saint-Louis ca. 1880-1920