Ziguinchor, Senegal

Etymology | History | Economy | Transport | Architecture | Places of worship | Demography | Administration | Africa Cup of Nations | Education

🇸🇳 Ziguinchor (Siggcoor; زيغينكور) is the capital of the Ziguinchor Region, and the chief town of the Casamance area of Senegal, lying at the mouth of the Casamance River. It is the seventh largest city of Senegal, but largely separated from the north of the country by The Gambia.

Etymology There are several competing etymologies for Ziguinchor's name. The best known comes from the time when Portuguese traders and explorers came to the region to form a trading post, and derives from Portuguese Cheguei e choram, "I came and they cry". The local people, seeing the Europeans, began crying, thinking they were about to be enslaved. The name, however, likely predates the Portuguese arrival, as the earliest sources mention the Bainuk of Ezigichor. The term may come from the Bainuk language words "asi nin core", meaning "places to go are finished", relating to the end of the Bainuk migrations in their traditional history. It could also come from "ji gi cor", meaning "place of several fields".

History The oldest habitation of the area was a Jola village. The first European settlement in the area was founded by the Portuguese in 1645 as a dependency of Cacheu populated by settlers from Cape Verde as well as lancados and other Afro-Europeans. The Portuguese objective was to found a trading post and establish an alliance with the localmansa or king of the Kasa kingdom, described by chroniclers as the mostly friendly ruler towards the Portuguese along the Guinean coast. The king started to live in European manner, with table, chairs and western clothing and, in the court, there were several Portuguese merchants. One of the commodities for trade were slaves, and Ziguinchor became a slave port during much of the Portuguese rule.

The post boasted a fort with a few pieces of artillery by 1700, but was never an important economic center. The French occupied Carabane island downstream in 1836, forcing Portuguese ships to pay duties there. Despite frantic diplomatic efforts by governor Honório Barreto, Portugal never really tried to defend their claim to the region. Ziguinchor was eventually handed over to France on 22 April 1888, fulfilling a deal brokered at the Berlin conference of 1886.

Under the French, Ziguinchor became a major trade port, mostly due to the intensive groundnut cultivation the colonial government encouraged in the interior. By 1900, the area was largely converted to Christianity, although significant Syncretist and Muslim communities flourish.

Rice growing, the traditional crop of the region, was hurt by the push to cultivate groundnuts, and extensive forest areas were cleared. The French government also imported rice from the intensive farming they encouraged in French Indochina, shrinking the market for Casamance's main produce.

After independence, the city saw its economic growth slow, in part due to the War of Independence in neighboring Guinea-Bissau. The Portuguese military crossed into the area at least once, pursuing PAIGC rebels, and cannon fire could be heard in the city for much of the war. During this period Ziguinchor became a main post for both the Senegalese Army and French forces, guarding the frontier that cut Jola families and communities in two.

As the capital of Casamance, Ziguinchor has been at the centre of a three-decade-long conflict with Dakar that has flared into open civil war on more than one occasion. With a population with a majority of Diola and Christian, the effects of a large migration of Wolof Muslims fleeing drought in the north during the 1970s caused tensions to flare. A 1983 demonstration against price rises in Ziguinchor Market was put down violently by Senegalese forces, and an insurgency by the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) followed, effectively wrecking the economy of the region. The 2004 peace accords, signed in Ziguinchor, were hoped to be the end of the violence, but in 2006, sporadic fighting by an MFDC split and laying of land mines again erupted in rural areas nearby.

Ousmane Sonko, a prominent opposition leader, was elected mayor of Ziguinchor in 2022. The city was the scene of large protests in June 2023 after his conviction on charges that many Senegalese, especially youth, view as a political ploy by President Macky Sall to discredit a rival.

Economy Ziguinchor remains economically dependent on its role as a cargo port, transport hub and ferry terminal. The "Nationale 4" highway crosses the Casamance River just east of the city, linking the region with Bignona about 25 km to the north, and (via The Gambia), the rest of Senegal.

A vibrant tourist destination, the beaches of nearby Cap Skirring were discovered by foreign tourists in the 1960s, and the location was built up to become one of the first Club Med resorts. Ziguinchor region is also known for growing great quantities of rice, oranges, mangoes, bananas, cashews, tropical fruits and vegetables, fish, and prawns, much of which are processed locally and exported from the city, its port, and its airport. It is also home to a large peanut oil factory.

Transport The MV Joola, which sank in 2002, was sailing from Ziguinchor to Dakar. The loss of the ferry, which was not replaced until 2005, cut the main link between Casamance and the rest of the country. The new ferry, which began regular runs in 2007, is named for local anti-colonial martyr Aline Sitoe Diatta, and promises a boost to the local economy.

The city has an airport, Ziguinchor Airport.

Architecture A number of buildings in the town have classified by government decree as historic, the cemetery and several government buildings, like the Ziguinchor Regional Council.

Places of worship Among the places of worship, they are predominantly Christian churches and temples: Roman Catholic Diocese of Ziguinchor (Catholic Church), Assemblies of God, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. There are also Muslim mosques.

Demography Ziguinchor is a melting pot of all the ethnic groups co-existing in Senegal: Mandinka, Jola, Wolof, Fula/Halpulaar, Mancagne, Manjack, Soninke, Serer, Bainouk, Balanta and Creole. Jola have been the majority of the population in the region since at least 1500, and culturally share much with the people of Guinea-Bissau. One of three dialects of Guinea-Bissau Creole, Cacheu–Ziguinchor, is centered around the city. Resistant to first Islam and later Christianity, many Jola retain a degree of animist practices, while Basse Casamance is the only majority Catholic area in Senegal.

Administration In the decades following independence, Ziguinchor was a stronghold of the Socialist Party of Senegal (PS). Robert Sagna, a long-time minister in Socialist Party governments, was also Mayor of Ziguinchor from 1984 to 2009. In the beginning of 2007 Sagna left the PS and led the Taku Défaraat Sénégal coalition in a failed presidential bid. In 2001's legislative elections, a big push by President Abdoulaye Wade's ruling PDS party, spearheading the Sopi coalition (joined in 2008 by And-Jëf/Pads), was led by Ziguinchor politician Abdoulaye Baldé, a former General Secretary to the President. In the 2001 elections, the a Ziguinchor National Assembly seat was gained by the PDS, and held again in 2007, prompting speculation that Sagna and his party's days of dominating local politics were numbered. Sagna, though, won a legislative seat on proportional representation in 2007, and continued in both offices until 2009. The Sopi Coalition won the March 2009 local election in Ziguinchor, and Baldé was elected Mayor. He served until 2022, when he was defeated by Ousmane Sonko, a nationally prominent leader of the Yewwi Askan Wi coalition.

Africa Cup of Nations Ziguinchor was one of the venues for the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations football championship. The city Sports and Arts Associations conceived for the first time the concept of having specific suburbs barracking for each national team in order to give a vibrant and joyful atmosphere to the Football tournament that saw Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Zambia, Egypt, Congo play the first half of the Championship in that city. This successful and original experience inspired other tournament organisers from then on. Mali hosting the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations used the same concept through the famous Ndiatiguiya, (having specific suburbs barracking for a specific team throughout the tournament), and then Korea/Japan during the 2002 World Cup used the same concept as well.

Education École française François-Rabelais, a French international school serving maternelle (preschool) through collège, is in Ziguinchor.

The Catholic University of West Africa opened a campus in Ziguinchor in 2006. Ziguinchor University was founded in 2007.

Dakar Time 
Dakar Time
Image: Initsogan

Ziguinchor has a population of over 230,000 people. Ziguinchor also forms the centre of the wider Ziguinchor Region which has a population of over 523,840 people.

To set up a UBI Lab for Ziguinchor see: https://www.ubilabnetwork.org Twitter: https://twitter.com/UBILabNetwork

Twin Towns, Sister Cities Ziguinchor has links with:

🇮🇹 Rimini, Italy 🇫🇷 Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, France 🇬🇼 Tite, Guinea-Bissau 🇺🇸 Upper Marlboro, USA
Text Atribution: Wikipedia Text under CC-BY-SA license

Antipodal to Ziguinchor is: 163.717,-12.55

Locations Near: Ziguinchor -16.2833,12.55

🇸🇳 Bignona -16.233,12.817 d: 30.1  

🇬🇼 Cacheu -16.167,12.267 d: 34  

🇸🇳 Sédhiou -15.55,12.7 d: 81.3  

🇬🇲 Brikama -16.65,13.267 d: 89.1  

🇬🇲 Banjul -16.589,13.455 d: 105.9  

🇬🇲 Kerewan -16.089,13.49 d: 106.6  

🇬🇲 Serrekunda -16.678,13.435 d: 107.3  

🇬🇼 Bissau -15.606,11.853 d: 106.9  

🇬🇲 Kanifing -16.681,13.443 d: 108.2  

🇬🇼 Farim -15.217,12.483 d: 116  

Antipodal to: Ziguinchor 163.717,-12.55

🇸🇧 Honiara 159.95,-9.433 d: 19477.4  

🇻🇺 Port Vila 168.315,-17.737 d: 19256.2  

🇳🇨 Koné 164.852,-21.059 d: 19061.3  

🇳🇨 Nouméa 166.45,-22.267 d: 18896.5  

🇵🇬 Buka 154.667,-5.417 d: 18744  

🇫🇯 Lautoka 177.456,-17.611 d: 18437  

🇫🇯 Suva 178.427,-18.136 d: 18320.8  

🇫🇯 Nausori 178.534,-18.031 d: 18313.9  

🇳🇿 Manukau 174.883,-1.019 d: 18237.8  

🇦🇺 Hervey Bay 152.855,-25.29 d: 18197.3  

Bing Map

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