1902 Encyclopedia > Senegal

River and French colony in western Africa

SENEGAL, a river of western Africa, which falls into the Atlantic about 1G° N. lat., 9 or 10 miles below St Louis. It is formed at Bafulabe (13° 50' N. lat. and 10° 50' W. long.) by the junction of the Ba-fing or Black River and the Ba-khoy or White Biver. The Ba-fing, which has a width at the confluence of 1175 feet, descends from the highlands of Futa-Jallon by a northward course of about 350 miles, during which it passes by a series of rapids from the altitude of 2160 feet, at which it takes its rise, to that of 360 feet, and receives from the right the Nunkolo and the Funkumah (with its tributary the Boki). The Ba-khoy, 800 feet wide at the confluence, has been previously flowing from east to west and gives that general direction to the Senegal, but its source is away in the south-east behind the country of Bure. That of its prin-cipal tributary, the Ba-ule (Red River), is more to the east and lies within a few miles of the course of the Niger in the Mandingo plateau. Below Bafulabe the Senegal, flow-ing north-west, passes a succession of falls—those of Guina (160 feet) and of Felu (50 or 60)—and arrives at Medine, after having accomplished 440 of its total course of 1000 miles. It receives only two important affluents,—-from the right the "marigot" of Kulu, which comes from Kuniakhary, draining the slopes of the Kaarta plateau, and from the left the Faleme, which rises in the Futa-Jallon between Labe and Timbo and flows north-west in a permanent stream. Below Medine the Senegal presents a series of great reaches, which become more and more navigable as they approach the sea.

From the 1st of August to the 1st of October it is open as far as Medine to vessels not drawing more than 8 feet. Between Medine and Bakel (85 miles) there are twenty-seven "narrows," of which several, such as that at Kayes, are difficult ; it is on this account that a railway has been projected between Kayes and the Niger. At Bakel below the confluence of the Faleme the river is navigable till the 1st of December, from Bakel to Salde between the 15th of July and the 15th of December, and lastly from Mafu to the sea for a distance of 215 miles it is navigable all the year round. Outside the limits indicated navigation between Mafu and Medine is often precarious even for barges drawing little over a foot, and above Medine, though some reaches are deep enough, troublesome transhipments are necessary between reach and reach. Between Mafu and Salde the Senegal changes its direction from north-west to west, and shortly before reaching the sea to south-west. The bar at the mouth can usually be crossed by vessels not drawing more than 10 feet, or at high tides a little more. Below Bakel the river becomes tortuous and encloses the great island of Morfil, 110 miles long, and a series of other islands, of which one is occupied by St Louis. At this point the right branch of the river is only 500 feet from the sea, but the dunes along the coast turn it south for other 9 miles. The scantiness of its sources, the steepness of its upper course, and the rapid evaporation which takes place after the short rainy season would soon dry up the river-system of the Senegal, especially in the upper regions; but natural dams cross the channel at intervals and the water accumulates behind them in deep reaches, which thus act as reservoirs. In the rainy season the barriers are submerged in succession, beginning with the farthest up, the reaches are filled, and the plains of the lower Senegal are changed into immense marshes. Like Lake Mceris in antiquity on the Nile and the lake of Cambodia at the present time on the Me-kong, Lake Cayor on the right side of the lower Senegal and Lake Paniel'ul on the left constitute reserve basins, receiving the surplus waters of the river during flood and restoring them in the dry season. For months together the latter forms the only drinking pond for the wild beasts of the surrounding country,—lions, elephants, leopards, panthers, ounces, cheetahs, hyrenas, lynxes, giraffes, antelopes, gazelles, monkeys, jackals visiting it in crowds. In the upper part of the river the reservoirs are successively emptied to the level of the dams and receive no more water except from the permanent springs ; but they are partially protected by curtains of verdure from the effects of the evaporation which makes itself so severely felt on the treeless seaboard. Owing to these natural "locks," similar to those of an artificial canal, the Senegal river never discharges less than 1700 or 1S00 cubic feet per second. The lower Senegal forms the boundary between the dry and barren Sahara and the rich and productive region of the western Sudan ; the line of its inundations is an ethnographic march between the nomadic Moor and the settled Negro.

SENEGAL, a French colony of western Africa, composed of lines of fortified posts and a loose agglomeration of states and territories in various degrees of subjugation. The forts extend (a) from St Louis at the mouth of the Senegal to Bammako on the Niger, (b) along the coast of the Atlantic between St Louis and the mouth of the Salum to the south of Cape Verd, and (c) along the so-called rivers of the south which fall into the ocean between the Gambia and SIERRA LEONE (q.p.). French influence is fully dominant along those lines either in the form of actual territorial possession or of a recognized protectorate.
The colony is ruled by a governor, sends a deputy to the French legislature, and elects a general council of sixteen members, ten for the electoral district of St Louis, four for that of Gorée-Dakar, and two for that of Rufisque. The three communes just named have each its municipal council. The population of those French possessions was in 1884 197,644,-46,364 urban, 143,200 rural, 8080 " floating." In the whole number there were only 1474 Europeans, of whom 1461 were French. The population of the protected countries cannot be ascertained. The most important places in the colony are St Louis (18,924 inhabitants in 1883), Dagana (5375), Rufisque (-1244), Medine (3000), Joal (2372), Corée and' Dakar (each 2000). The colony has only a single true port, that of Dakar to the east of the peninsula of Cape Verd, since 1885 connected with St Louis by a railroad, 163 miles long, and visited by Atlantic steamers on their way from France to South America. Rufisque and Corée have open roadsteads, where vessels anchor at some dis-tance from the shore. The port of St Louis in the Senegal is difficult of access owing to the bar, but it is the only place where vessels can repair serious damages. The principal commercial centres are St Louis (imports and exports), Corée (exports), and Rufisque (exports). The upper Senegal sends ground-nuts (known as Galani nuts), gum, millet, leather, and receives in exchange blue calico (guiñee) from India, England, and Belgium, various other cotton stuff's, cotton yarn, guns and ammunition, tobacco, crushed rice, sugar (raw and refined), molasses, biscuits, tinsmiths' wares, &c. The colony also imports Swedish iron, which is manu-factured by the native blacksmiths into agricultural implements, knives, daggers, and spearheads. Cayor sells its ground-nuts for money. The rivers of the south district export ground-nuts, palm kernels, india-rubber, leather, coffee, in return for English and Belgian blue calico, Hamburg brandy, English gunpowder, English and Belgian guns, and American tobacco. An English firm has twenty-three factories on the Rio Nunez, and others on the Rio Pongo and the Mellacorée. The total value of the exports and imports of the colony was £1,325,711 in 1879, £1,774,089 in 1880, and £1,888,657 in 1883, the imports slightly preponderating over the exports. The value of the ground-nuts exported in 1883 was £700,000, that of the gums only £120,000 ; and the ground-nut trade is still rapidly developing. The imports comprise French goods £360,000, goods passing as French £200,000. foreign goods £440,000, of which £240,000 represent English, £200,000 Belgian, £120,000 Gorman, £80,000 American articles. In 1882 946 vessels entered and 960 cleared. The budget for the colony in 1884 Was £100,320, for the communal expenses £14,560, and for the expenses of the capital £250,000.

History.—The navigators of Dieppe are said to have discovered the Senegal about 1360. The Portuguese had some establishments on its banks in the 15th century ; and the first French settlements were probably formed in the latter part of the 16th or beginning of the 17th century. Between 1664, when these French settlements were assigned to Colbert's West India Company, and 1758, when the colony was seized by the English, Senegal had passed under the administration of no fewer than seven different companies, none of which attained any great success, though from 1694 to 1724 affairs were conducted by a really able governor, André Brue. In 1677 the French captured from the Dutch Rufisque, Portudal, Joal, and Gorée, and they were confirmed in possession of these places by the treaty of Nimeguen (1678). In 1717 they acquired Portendic and in 1724 Arguin on the coast of the Sahara, which still belong to the colony. Gorée and the district of Cape Verd were surrendered by the English to the French in 1763, and by the treaty of peace in 1783 the whole of the Senegal was also restored ; but the English again captured the colony in the wars of the first empire (Gorée 1800, St Louis 1809), and, though the treaty of Paris authorized a complete restitution, the French authorities did not enter into pos-session till 1817. Between that date and 1854 little was effected by the thirty-seven governors who succeeded each other at St Louis ; but in this year the appointment of General Faidherbe proved the turning-point in the history of Senegal. He at once set about subduing the Moorish (Berber) tribes of the Trarzas, Braknas, and Duaish, whose "kings," especially the king of the Trarzas, had subjected the French settlers and traders to the most grievous and arbitrary exactions; and he bound them by treaty to confine their authority to the north bank of the Senegal. In 1855 he annexed the country of Walo and erected the fort of Médine in the country of Khasso. This last was a bold stroke for the purpose of stemming the ad-vancing tide of Moslem invasion, which under Omar al-Hadji (Alegui) threatened the safety of the colony. In 1857 Médine was brilliantly defended by the mulatto Paul Holie against Omar, who with his army of 20,000 men had to retire before the advance of General Faidherbe and turn his attention to the conquest of the native states of the Sudan. By treaty of 1860 Omar recognized the French claim to half of Bambuk, half of Khasso, Bondu, Kamera, Guoy, Guidimakha, Damga, Futa-Toro, Dimar, &c. Since then annexations and protectorates have followed in rapid succession under the governorships of Jauréguiberry, Faidherbe, and Brière de l'lsle. It is sufficient to mention the treaties of 1881 and 1885 by which the confederation of Futa-Jallon and Buré respectively recognized a French protectorate.

See Jannequin de Rochefort, Voyage de Libye em royaume de Senega, 1643 ; Adanson, Histoire naturel du Senegal, 1757 ; Mollien, Voyage dans l'intérieur de l'Afrique fait aux sources du Sénégal et de la Gambie en 1818-1820; Tardieu, Sènégambie et Guinée, 1847; Faidherbe on " Populations noires des bassins du Sénégal et du Niger," in Bull. Soc. de Géogr., Paris, 1854 ; Sénégal et Niger, la France dans l'Afrique Occidentale, 1879-83, published by the Ministry of Marine, 1884; Faidherbe, Le Soudan français, Lille, 1881-85 ; Notices Coloniales pub. à l'occasion de l'Exposition d'Anvers, 1885; Annales Sénégalaises de 1854 à 1885, suivies des traités passés avec les indigènes, 1886 ; and Rambaud, "Sénégal et Soudan Français," in Révue des Deux Mondes, 1885.

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