Saint-Louis: Religious Pluralism in the Heart of Senegal

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

Gallery 1: Saint Louis -- An Overview of the City
Catholic Cemetery
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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.

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1987)
Catholic Church, from rear
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This is a rear view of the Catholic Church, opposite the Governor's Palace and in the South (Sud) quarter, often called the "cathedral."

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1994)
Catholic Church, side
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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.

Courtesy of David Robinson(1985)
Gallery 2: A Secular and Republican Administration
Canoe Team
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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."

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1987)
Crowd Gathering at the Public Square
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Crowd gathering on the grounds of the Government Headquarters.

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1987)
Typical Street
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Typical street on the island of Saint-Louis.

Courtesy of David Robinson(1985)
Gallery 3: The Christian Community
19th Century Mosque
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19th century mosque in the North (Nord) quarter of the island, built in the 1840s after considerable pressure from the Muslim community.

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1987)
Catholic Church, from rear
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This is a rear view of the Catholic Church, opposite the Governor's Palace and in the South (Sud) quarter, often called the "cathedral."

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1994)
Catholic Church, side
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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.

Courtesy of David Robinson(1985)
Chamber of Commerce
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The Saint-Louis Chamber of Commerce brought together the largely French companies operating in the region.

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1987)
Monument of Faidherbe
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Louis Leon Cesar Faidherbe, governor from 1854-61 and 1863-5, created many of the institutions of colonial Senegal and Mauritania

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1994)
New Mosque
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New mosque on the island of Saint-Louis (North).

Courtesy of David Robinson(1985)
Street Scene facing South
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Typical street scene on the South (Sud) quarter of the island.

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1987)
Typical Street Scene (North)
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Typical street scene in Saint-Louis (North).

Courtesy of David Robinson(1985)
Map of Saint-Louis
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Saint-Louis at the end of the 19th century.

Map of the Senegalo-Mauritanian Zone
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Senegalo-Mauritanian Zone around Saint-Louis ca. 1880-1920

Courtesy of David Robinson
Gallery 4: The Muslim Community
Chamber of Commerce
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The Saint-Louis Chamber of Commerce brought together the largely French companies operating in the region.

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1987)
General Council Building
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In the 1880s the General Council constructed this building, housing its meeting rooms and offices, on the main branch of the river.

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1994)
Government School for the Aristocracy
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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."

Courtesy of David Robinson(1985)
Governor's Palace
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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.

Courtesy of David Robinson(1985)
Headquarters of Maurel and Prom firm
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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.

Courtesy of David Robinson(1985)
Justice Palace
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The Palace of Justice where most cases were adjudicated.

Courtesy of David Robinson(1985)
Monument of Faidherbe
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Louis Leon Cesar Faidherbe, governor from 1854-61 and 1863-5, created many of the institutions of colonial Senegal and Mauritania

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1994)
Gallery 5: The Muslim Tribunal
Al-Hajj Malik Sy
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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).

Courtesy of Paul Marty(1912)
Gallery 6: Muslim Education and Changing Sufi Identities
Sample page from Register of the Muslim Tribunal
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A sample page of summaries of cases by the qadi (judge) of the Muslim Tribunal, late 19th century

Courtesy of Ghislaine Lydon(1997)
Muslim Tribunal
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Under Governor Faidherbe, the French built a Muslim Tribunal where Islamic law would be practiced and opened this court in 1857.

Courtest of Ghislaine Lydon(1997)
Muslim Tribunal, side
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Under Governor Faidherbe, the French built a Muslim Tribunal where Islamic law would be practiced and opened this court in 1857.

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1994)
Gallery 7: Diplomacy
19th Century Mosque
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19th century mosque in the North (Nord) quarter of the island, built in the 1840s after considerable pressure from the Muslim community.

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1987)
Al-Hajj Malik Sy
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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).

Courtesy of Paul Marty(1912)
Bu El Moghdad
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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.

Courtesy of Tour Du Monde(1861)
Muslim Cleric ("Marabout") Arriving in Saint-Louis
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A postcard from the Senegal National Archives, created for a French audience in about 1900.

Courtesy of Senegalese National Archives
New Mosque
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New mosque on the island of Saint-Louis (North).

Courtesy of David Robinson(1985)
Gallery 8: Images Not Used in Essays
Bu El Moghdad
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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.

Courtesy of Tour Du Monde(1861)
Omar Sarr
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Omar Sarr at his home.

Courtesy of Kalala Ngalamulume(1994)
Bu El Moghdad
Bu El Moghdad
Bu El Moghdad
Bu El Moghdad

Date: 1861
Al-Hajj Malik Sy
Al-Hajj Malik Sy
Al-Hajj Malik Sy
Al-Hajj Malik Sy

Date: 1912
New Mosque
New Mosque
New Mosque
New Mosque

Date: 1985
Governor's Palace
Governor's Palace
Governor's Palace
Governor's Palace

Date: 1985
Typical Street Scene (North)
Typical Street Scene (North)
Typical Street Scene (North)
Typical Street Scene (North)

Date: 1985
Justice Palace
Justice Palace
Justice Palace
Justice Palace

Date: 1985
Typical Street
Typical Street
Typical Street
Typical Street

Date: 1985
Headquarters of Maurel and Prom firm
Headquarters of Maurel and Prom firm
Headquarters of Maurel and Prom firm
Headquarters of Maurel and Prom firm

Date: 1985
Catholic Church, side
Catholic Church, side
Catholic Church, side
Catholic Church, side

Date: 1985
Government School for the Aristocracy
Government School for the Aristocracy
Government School for the Aristocracy
Government School for the Aristocracy

Date: 1985
Street Scene facing South
Street Scene facing South
Street Scene facing South
Street Scene facing South

Date: 1987
Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Commerce

Date: 1987
Canoe Team
Canoe Team
Canoe Team
Canoe Team

Date: 1987
19th Century Commercial Houses and Warehouses
19th Century Commercial Houses and Warehouses
19th Century Commercial Houses and Warehouses
19th Century Commercial Houses and Warehouses

Date: 1987
Catholic Cemetery
Catholic Cemetery
Catholic Cemetery
Catholic Cemetery

Date: 1987
Crowd Gathering at the Public Square
Crowd Gathering at the Public Square
Crowd Gathering at the Public Square
Crowd Gathering at the Public Square

Date: 1987
19th Century Mosque
19th Century Mosque
19th Century Mosque
19th Century Mosque

Date: 1987
Omar Sarr
Omar Sarr

Date: 1994
General Council Building
General Council Building
General Council Building
General Council Building

Date: 1994
Muslim Tribunal, side
Muslim Tribunal, side
Muslim Tribunal, side
Muslim Tribunal, side

Date: 1994
Monument of Faidherbe
Monument of Faidherbe
Monument of Faidherbe
Monument of Faidherbe

Date: 1994
Catholic Church, from rear
Catholic Church, from rear
Catholic Church, from rear
Catholic Church, from rear

Date: 1994
Chamber of Commerce 1994
Chamber of Commerce 1994
Chamber of Commerce 1994
Chamber of Commerce 1994

Date: 1994
Muslim Tribunal
Muslim Tribunal
Muslim Tribunal
Muslim Tribunal

Date: 1997
Map of the Senegalo-Mauritanian Zone
Map of the Senegalo-Mauritanian Zone
Map of the Senegalo-Mauritanian Zone
Map of the Senegalo-Mauritanian Zone

Map of Saint-Louis
Map of Saint-Louis
Map of Saint-Louis
Map of Saint-Louis

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