Saint Louis

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Saint Louis was established in the 17th century, and by 1885 it was one of the most important port cities on the Atlantic coast. Its settlements of Wolof, French and Portuguese peoples made it not only an important trade center for peanuts and slaves, but also home to an elite French-speaking, and Catholic, community of native Africans, known as the Métis. In the late 19th century, Saint Louis became one of the primary French municipalities, in which male inhabitants were fully French citizens. The cosmopolitan city was also home to a handful of French-educated intellectuals, as well as Senegal’s first woman author, Annette Mbaye d’Erneville (b. 1926). Containing many historic 19th century public buildings, zawiyas (Muslim pilgrimage hostels) built by the Malikiyya branch of the Sufi Mouride order, and one of several main Catholic cathedrals in Senegal, today’s Saint Louis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Louis is also a major hub for nightlife and jazz in West Africa. Its rich social, political and architectural history thus gives witness to the city’s strong Christian community, as well as Senegal’s long history of religious tolerance and respect between Muslims and Christian minorities.

Sources Cited
Eric S. Ross, Culture and Customs of Senegal, [London: Greenwood Press], 3-77.