(also spelled Serreer
, etc.) are the second largest ethnic group in Senegal
and are a major group in The Gambia
. Their traditional kingdoms include the Kingdom of Sine and Saloum
. They are divided into several groups that speak mutually-unintelligible languages:
- Serer-Sine spoken in Sine-Saloum, Kaolack, Diourbel, Dakar and many other areas.
- Serer-Safen spoken southeast of Dakar inland from the Petit Cote.
- Serer-Ndut spoken in the Mont-Roland area northwest of Thies.
- Serer-Noon spoken around Thies.
- Serer-Palor spoken in a small area between Rufisque and Thies.
- Serer-Lehar spoken in a small area north of Thies.
All the Serer languages but Serer-Sine (the largest) are classified in a separate group as Cangin languages. The Serer have an elaborate traditional religion involveing a universal God, called Roog, various dimensions of life and death, space and time, and difficult negotiations with deceased ancestors. They were resistant and slow to adopt Islam, and many Serer areas are Catholic. The most famous Serer, Senegal's first president Leopold Sedar Senghor was a Catholic Serer-Sine. As the second-largest group in Senegal, they have have been somewhat overwhelmed by the energetic and dominant Wolof
ethnic group. Most Serer speak Wolof as a second language, and after moving to the cities, often as a first language.
Historically, the Serer believe that they migrated to central Senegal from the North in the 10th to 13th centuries.