Introduction / History
The Kwatay are an agricultural people living in southwest Senegal, along the coast south of the Casamance River, extending to Guinea-Bissau. They cultivate rice as their main staple food. The Kwatay live in cement or mud brick houses with thatched or aluminum roofs. Extended families live together in neighborhoods.
Little is known about the origin of the Kwatay, but they are related to the larger family of Jola groups. Protestant missions began work in the 1960's. Catholicism and Islam entered the area in the early 1900's, although many resisted their influence. Today, most of the Kwatay who practice Catholicism or Islam also retain their traditional beliefs.
Economically, the Kwatay rely on rice for their livelihood, but also sell palm wine, fish, and vegetables. When the rice growing season is over, jobs are scarce, and people often move away from their villages to find employment. Health care needs improvement, and the infant mortality rate is high.
The Kwatay are monogamous. Neighbors often work together by age groups to do cooperative farming.
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