Profile Source: West Africa Gateway
Introduction / History
The Sereer society is built upon strong family ties and tradition. Farmers and herders, the Sereer live on a subsistence basis, relying on good crop yields for a prosperous year. The men cultivate peanuts and millet for the subsistence of his family and community. After this season the men often go to the cities to work. There is often a network of friends and family in the city for men to live with. When the growing season is over for the main crops, women plant gardens of peas, okra, onions and tomatoes on her husband's land or a small plot of her own. She may form irrigation ditches around these plantings or carry the water to the garden herself.
While the men leave for the city to work, women stay at home caring for her family. The women work very hard, starting before daybreak preparing breakfast and working far into the evening preparing dinner and cleaning. They haul water, work in fields, and care for nursing infants. Young girls are expected to care for their siblings while the boys work in the fields with their father.
Celebrations among the Sereer include marriages and baby naming ceremonies. Both of these celebrations involve feasts and gifts of money. The Sereer enjoy song and dance and it is not limited to special occasions. Funerals are a process that starts when a person dies. Wailing and mourning continues until the burial. A month later a feast is given for the friends and family of the deceased.
What are Their Beliefs?
Most Sereer adhere to traditional beliefs while some have converted to Islam and others are Roman Catholic. The Sereer have been very gradual in accepting religions outside of their traditional beliefs. Even though people claim to have accepted Islam there are still many traditional beliefs included. Combining these two systems of beliefs is called "folk Islam". All systems of belief among the Sereer include a type of charm. The Muslims wear a picture of a Marabou (a holy Islamic man) and a portion of Quaranic scripture in their charm. This is believed to give the charm power and bless the wearer. Catholic believers wear a necklace with a picture of Christ or a Diocese in their charm. Animists wear a charm with a bone, shell or dried portion of an animal or ancestor who died long ago. Pray that the Sereer may find the true freedom in Christ. There is little isolation or persecution of those who turn from traditional beliefs. This is unusual and special among the various Senegalese groups. Pray that the Sereer will embrace this freedom and start churches that will grow and reproduce in cities and villages.