Serer people

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The Mbot masque. Symbol of the Ndut rite of passage.

The Serer people are a West African ethnoreligious group. They are the third largest ethnic group in Senegal making up 15% of the Senegalese population. They are also found in northern Gambia and southern Mauritania.


  • Just past a majestic grove of baobabs our pirogue waited in the shallows to take us to the Isle de Sangomar, a spit of sand that sits between the river and the sea. It used to be part of the mainland, but a big storm in 1987 lacerated the coast and washed away the sandbar connecting the town of Djifer with what had been Pointe de Sangomar, Mr. Ndiaye told us. The remains of the sandbar form a gorgeous beach of smooth, white sand on the river side of the island, lapped by gentle waves perfect for lazy lolling. Rougher surf pounds the other side of the island, and at its heart stands a sacred baobab, used by sorcerers and storytellers of the Serer people, who dominate this region, as a source of inspiration.
  • The Serer people still retain the deity service to the upright stones. At one time during the 14th century, they planted pestles that were used as altars for libation, called dek-kur, by the Wolof who have mixed with many of the Serer. Indeed, the idea of dek-kur, means anvil or receptacle. The ancient town of Tundi-Daro means, in Wolof, the hill of sexual union in a ritual sense, affirming much of the Serer oral tradition. What is more interesting in terms of religion of the Serer is that their burial rites were the same as those of the ancient kings of Ghana and Egypt. The deceased, after an elaborate ceremony, was buried in luxury depending on what was available, laid on a bed, and around him were placed all the usual domestic and ordinary materials, tools, and objects with which he was familiar during life and maybe a rooster to awaken him. He may have been mummified in the manner of Sunni Ali Ber, the great king of Songhai, because mummification seems to have remained only in the Angola region.


  • Westermann, Diedrich; Smith, Edwin William; Forde, Cyril Daryll; International African Institute, International Institute of African Languages and Cultures, Project Muse, JSTOR (Organization), "Africa: journal of the International African Institute, Volume 63", pp 86-96, 270-1, Edinburgh University Press for the International African Institute (1993)
  • Sonko-Godwin, Patience "Ethnic Groups of The Senegambia Region. A Brief History'"', p. 32, Sunrise Publishers Ltd. Third Edition (2003)
  • Mwakikagile, Godfrey, "Ethnic Diversity and Integration in The Gambia: The Land, The People and The Culture," Continental Press (2010), p 231, ISBN 9789987932221 [1]
  • "From Pampered to Primordial: A Delta Journey" by Lydia Polgreen [in] The New York Times, March 18, 2007[2]
  • Asante, Molefi Kete; Mazama, Ama, "Encyclopedia of African Religion" p. 846, SAGE Publications (2008), ISBN 9781506317861 [3]
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