Senegal Independence Day

Senegal Independence Day - April 4

Independent nations proudly observe their national days to rejoice and celebrate the fruits of freedom. On April 4th, Senegalese commemorate the success of their independence movement against the French colonial authorities.Senegal Independence Day

Different European powers – England, Portugal, and the Netherlands – competed for the trade of Senegal, until it was finally controlled by France in 1677. Traders mostly participated in gold, wax, ivory and the slave trade. Slavery was suppressed in the 1850s.

After a series of long negotiations with France, Senegal finally became an independent nation on June 20, 1960. Although Senegal was officially independent on 20 June 1960, it is on 4 April that the holiday is celebrated in the country.

Here’s wishing all Senegalese – a very Happy Senegal Independence Day!

Section # 1: Senegal Independence History

Senegal turned into a Republic on November 15, 1958, and picked up freedom in 1960 under the authority of President Léopold Sedar Senghor, in office from 1960 to 1980.

Senegal’s struggle for independence is a long one. Starting from the 11th century Tukulor people rule, the country went through a lot of stages in its history. The powerful Portuguese, Dutch, British and French traders – all managed to establish their presence on the country’s coastal areas. The country was declared a French possession in 1840 – the colonization continued until the 1960s.

This section here is completed dedicated to Senegal’s Independence History. Here’s what will be covered in detail here:

  • How Senegal Gained Independence
  • Who Led Senegal to Independence
  • Senegal Independence Movement
  • Senegal War of Independence

1). The First Colonization of Senegal by European Powers & The Establishment Of Triangular Trade with Different Countries

Senegal was first colonized during the 15th century by major European powers; French, Dutch, Portuguese, and British. As per historians, the colonization started after Cadamostro (a navigator from Venice) discovered the region somewhere in the 1950s on behalf of the Kingdom of Portugal.

When the Portuguese landed in the 1440s, they discovered a huge population of Senegal already engaging in slavery, using those involved in agriculture and exchanged them to Arabs for horses.

In 1588, the Dutch established a slave port on the island of Goree. The triangular trade then started with the Americans.

Each European power competed for trade in the region. In exchange for clothes, advanced weapons, horses, slaves from Senegal were shipped in worst conditions, where the slave death toll reached to 60%. Also participating in this profitable trade were the African people of the aristocracy and mixed race.

In total, over 10 million slaves were deported in 70 years. Today, the island of Goree still preserves many shocking traces of this horrible period when the slaves were deported in inhumane conditions.

2). The French Focus Their Attention on Gaining Control Over The Entire Region – Senegal Becomes a French Possession in 1840

Seeing the importance of Senegal for trade benefits and other purposes, the French soon started focused their attention on gaining control of the major areas. In 1659, the first major trading post on the mouth of the coastal zone of Senegal, called Saint-Louis, was established by France. It became an important slave-trading port.

In 1677, French took over the island of Goree from the Dutch and successfully managed to impose their power to different areas of the region.

In 1756, France and Great Britain got involved in a major conflict, called the Seven Years’ War. By the end of the war, the British won all of France’s land holdings in Senegal and formed their British colony of Senegambia.

In 1816, French regained its holdings captured by Britain, and now it was the time when the French decided to establish complete control over the whole of Senegal.

It was declared French possession in 1840 and in the 1850s, at the expense of native Kingdoms like Waalo, Cayor, Baol, and Jolof, the French began extending both their military and their economic footprints onto the mainland. Starting in 1839 and going on into the 1960s, Senegal became one of the major producers of peanuts.

3). France Invades the Main Senegalese Territory & Crush Local Resistance From Senegalese Leaders

In the 1850s, the French started invading the Senegalese territory. There was strong native resistance to the French expansion. The local resistance, driven by many Senegalese rulers, resulted in the Battle of Logandeme, easily won by the French.

The French decided to set up Senegal as an agricultural colony that produces cotton and indigo. But because of the heavy taxes and customs of the Moorish clans settled on the river Senegal river bank – things didn’t go in favor of the French and project failed miserably.

Louis Faidhbere of France was sent as a Colony Governor. He defeated the Moorish clans, suppressed their customs, and invaded several fortresses along the river bank. But the game was not over yet, as French now have to defeat the strong Muslim military commander El Hadj Omar Tall. He kept fighting the French colonial army and resisted them from mainland control, until his death in 1864.

A short time later Faidherbe established a French protectorate on the river region and endeavored to have a railway line built between Goree and Saint-Louis for the transportation of peanuts. Here again, the French had to face resistance from Lat Dior Diop. He died in 1886 during a fight against the French army troops.

By the late 1800s, France had effectively stretched out its power and administrations to all the domain of Senegal!

4). Senegal Under France Colonial Rule – France Grants Important Rights To The Senegalese

France granted certain political rights to people in the main trading towns of Senegal and declared them citizens and allowed them to elect a French parliament representative.

In 1914, the first African was elected in the assembly. Two French parliament deputies were granted to Senegal in 1946. The franchise was extended under the 1946 Constitution, which established a Territorial Assembly in Senegal. Universal suffrage was formed in 1957.

Senegal adopted the new French constitution of 1958 and turned into an autonomous republic within the French Community.

5). The French Decolonization of Senegal – Senegal Becomes An Independent Republic

France’s ultimate decolonization of the country took almost 15 years. It was a long process. France promised independence to Senegal, to gain the support of Senegalese people during the Second World War.

Although France wanted to keep its colonial empire at all costs, especially since it faced defeat in WWII and lost several of its territories, pro-independent Africans pressured France to release its colonies, recalling its wartime promises.

In 1959, France ultimately resolved to give independence to its African colonies, facing pressure from superpowers like the United States. Within a year the political independence was gained in all the territories of former French West Africa. In effect, 14 former French colonies, including Senegal, gained independence between January and December 1960.

Senegal and French Sudan joined the Mali Federation on 4 April 1960, signing the power agreement with France. It became a Malian Federation that achieved complete independence on the June 20 of the same year. Two months later in August, when the leaders of the two countries were unable to agree on a common vision, the Federation dissolved. Senegal and Sudan (now Mali) proclaimed independence. Leopold Sedar Senghor became the first president of independent Senegal.

6). Choosing The Senegal Independence Date

Senegal Independence Day is celebrated every year on 4th April, here’s why:

In January 1959, Senegal and Sudan (today Mali) merged together to form the Mali Federation. The Federation got independent in June 1960, following the Senegal independence agreements signed with France on April 4th, 1960 (the official date chosen for Senegal Independence Day).

This is the reason, why Senegalese celebrate their independence day on April 4th every year.


Quick Overview of Senegal Independence Events
1440s Portuguese traders reach Senegal
1558 Dutch establish slave port on Goree island
1659 French find St-Louis at Senegal river
1677 French take over Goree island from the Dutch
1756-63 Seven Years’ War: Britain takes over French posts in Senegal
1816 Britain returns French holdings
1800s France gains control of all the Senegal territory
1895 Senegal becomes part of French West Africa
1958 Senegal become an autonomous republic, as part of the French Community
1960 Senegal becomes independent

Section # 2: Senegal Independence Day Celebrations

Senegal’s Independence Day takes place annually on April 4th. This day commemorates the historic day of 1960 when Senegal became independent from the French colonial rule. Gaining freedom from such strong European powers, was an important turning point for Senegal.

Even before France controlled the nation, traders from Portugal, Holland, and Britain had power in the region as well. They eventually conquered the indigenous empires and kingdoms of Senegal, which had thrived there for hundreds of years before.

By winning its independence from France, it could now flourish as an independent country, and the Senegalese could now rebuild their cultural traditions which were once lost due to the centuries of colonialism in the country.

Today, Independence Day in Senegal is celebrated with great enthusiasm and nation pride. There are military parades, patriotic festivals, and several celebrations that reflect the true patriotic spirit of the people of Senegal. Let’s dive into Senegal Independence Day celebrations and learn how this special day is celebrated here:

1). Celebrated every year on April 4th, independence day is a public holiday in Senegal. Most public and private businesses remain closed throughout the day. Schools across the country, award children with a 14-day long independence day vacation.

2). The independence day festivities start on the night before the actual date. Many families head out to the local bazaars to purchase new clothes and flags. All the major buildings in the country are decorated with national flags and colorful lights. Patriotic Senegalese leave no stone unturned in celebrating the day to the fullest and decorate their homes and streets with lights and pennants.

3). The official independence day celebrations kick start at the dawn of April 4th. Special prayers are made for the progress, development, and stability of the region.

There’s a flag raising ceremony in the capital, followed by a grand independence day parade at the Avenue of General DeGaulle in Dakar.

Around 4,000 military officials, 2,000 civilians, several government representatives, foreign diplomats, and the President of Senegal, participate in this grand annual independence day function held to commemorate the historic day of 1960 when the country freed itself from the locked chains of colonialism.

The parade includes the singing of the national anthem, and the President’s speech followed by the display of advanced armories and weapons. The locals feel great pride in seeing their national army parading under the national flag, and celebrate to the fullest.

4). Children anxiously wait for the independence day, not just to celebrate the day, but to also enjoy the two-week-long vacations from their school. Many families head to picnic spots with kids, where they engage in dancing and feasting over traditional dishes. Parties are also a staple of independence day festivities.

On independence day the air is full of energy and fervor and Senegalese like to meet and share beverages, food, and dances while appreciating the country-wide events and parades. Happy Senegalese Independence Day!

Section # 3: Senegal Independence Day – A Complete Overview Of Senegal’s 59th Independence Anniversary

Senegal Independence  date is April 4.

This year, the Gambian President Adama Barrow and Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde will join the 59th Senegal Independence Day festivities in Dakar and attend the inauguration of new Senegalese President Macky Sall. There will be a grand independence day parade and event in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.

The country is all ready to celebrate their independence day with great enthusiasm and patriotic fervor.

*Do you know? To date, Senegal has seen 4 presidents of the Republic: Léopold Sédar Senghor, Abdou Diouf, Abdoulaye Wade, and now Macky Sall.

Senegal Independence Day Wishes & Messages: Send Warm Greetings To Your Senegalese friends this year!

  • Wishing all my friends and family, a very Happy 59th Senegal Independence Anniversary. Thank You All The Leaders For Giving Us Freedom To Live and Enjoy!
  • May the Senegal flag always fly high. Warm wishes on the grand occasion of Senegal Independence Day.
  • Today we celebrate the gift of freedom. Long may our flag wave. Happy Senegal Independence Day
  • This National Day let’s take a pledge to protect the peace and unity of our great nation. Wishing you a blessed Senegal National Day!
  • On this national day, here’s wishing our dreams of a new successful tomorrow come true. May this independence day be filled with patriotic spirit. Wishing you all a very Happy Senegal Independence !
  • Freedom in the Mid, Faith in the Words, Pride in our souls. Let’s salute our nation and welcome our new President Mack Sall on this grand Independence day event.

Senegal National Anthem & Flag – Learning the Origin & Significance Of The National Symbols of This West African Country

As this day is all about celebrating the independence day by waving the national flag and chanting the national anthem, so it would be ideal if you learn the meaning and importance of both of these iconic symbols.

The National Anthem of Senegal

The National Anthem of Senegal is “Pincez Tous vos Koras, Frappez les Balafons”  which in English translates to “The Red Lion”. You would be surprised to hear that the lyrics of the national anthem by written by Leopold Sedar Senghor, who served as the country’s first President after independence in 1960. The anthem symbolizes unity, faith, discipline and love among Africans and recharges the patriotic zeal in everyone’s soul.

The National Flag of Senegal

The National flag of Senegal was adopted right after the country won its independence in 1960. Over the years, there have been a minor changes in its design, but the pattern of stripes and tricolors has remained the same. The flag is a tricolor consisting of three vertical stripes of green, yellow, and red printed with a five-pointed green star at the yellow stripe in the center.

The color green in the flag represents Islam, which is the country’s majority religion at 94% of the population. Yellow is the symbol of wealth and the color red recalls the color of blood and sacrifice of ancient heroes for their beloved nation. The star in the center is symbolic of unity and hope.

When combined, all the three colors (Green, Yellow, Red) are the colors of the Pan-African movement. The pattern is designed on Senegal’s flag as a symbol of brotherhood among African countries.

Senegal National Day – Quick Facts

The Independence Day of Senegal is all about celebrating the freedom of Senegal from France and remembering the struggle of national heroes and Senegalese independence movement.

Date: April 4

Holiday Type: National Holiday

Also called: Senegal National Day, Senegal Independence Day, Independance Du Senegal

Observances: Parade, Feasting, Dancing, Party

National Anthem: The Red Lion