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Senegalese Diola In Context

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Chapter Summary

Much of what is known about the Diola people and the region they inhabit has come about through the works of a handful of European and American ethnographers and sociologists/anthropologists. French colonists did not hesitate to describe Senegalese people as superstitious, ivrognes, "drunks" and savages. Les Pères du Saint Esprit, "the Holy Ghost Fathers," who came to Senegal with the first French colonial administrators, confused their Eurocentric version of Christianity for a tool with which to civilize Diola barbarians. Diola religion was labeled a satanic path and its ouwasena or kouwasena "priests, priest-kings" as savages. Historical events such as the creation of a shrine, Kahat, and especially Bukut, constitute the tapestry from which the Diola established a sense of chronology and socioreligious structure. Remembered and interpreted inter-generational events are dynamic ways Diola people construct their symbolic universe through which self-understanding is reached, identity shaped, and reality grasped.

Keywords: Christianity; Diola; French colonists; Senegalese people; socioreligious structure



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