Point of Sangomar

The Point of Sangomar is a sand spit located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Saloum Delta, which marks the end of the Petite Côte west of Senegal.

This narrow sandbar extends south about twenty kilometers from Palmarin Diakhanor. Long threatened by coastal erosion, the fragile cord was again broken by a tidal wave in 1987, giving birth to the island of Sangomar. The gap between this new island and the point where the village of Djiffer continues to widen.

Geomorphology and environmental

The rupture in Sangomar is the result of a natural process for the past few thousand years,[1] which has also been noticed by sailors.

In 1891, it was found that the gap had widened from 25 to 30m since 1886.[2] In the twentieth century, several breaks were reported including: 1909, 1928, 1960, 1970, etc.

The latest occurred on 27 February 1987 at a place called Lagoba. A year later, the gap was reported to be 1 km wide, and ten years later, about 4 km.[1] Several camps and buildings were destroyed. The fish packing plant at Djifer was closed in 1996.[1] The village located 4 km north of the first breakpoint is increasingly threatened and authorities are considering the evacuation of its inhabitants to the new port of Diakhanor.[3]

Parallel to the phenomenon of erosion, occurs a process of sedimentation: the extremity of the new Southern Island of Sangomar increases by 100 m per annum to the south and, on the opposite bank, the outskirts of the villages of Niodior and Dionewar are silting considerably, reducing traffic of vessels and contributing to the isolation of populations.[1]

All these phenomena are closely followed by a body established with the support of UNESCO in 1984, the multidisciplinary team that studies coastal ecosystems (EPEEC).[1]


The Point of Sangomar has also been long described by navigators and hydrographers because of its bar[4] and because of its strategic location downstream of the port of Kaolack, an important production center for peanuts and salt.[5]

In the mid-nineteenth century, Louis Faidherbe, the Governor of Senegal, tried to take control of the peanut producing countries and those encircling the Cayor. In May 1858, he made an expedition directed in particular to the Kingdom of Sine. To consolidate the French position, as in Rufisque (Cayor), Saly (Baol), Kaolack (Saloum) and Joal-Fadiouth (Kingdom of Sine), a fort was built at Sangomar.[6] In 1890, a customs post was built there.[7]


According to Henry Gravrand, the word "Sangomar" among the Serer people, means "the village of shadows", (the "Elysiums").[8]

Religious significance

In the Serer religion, the Point of Sangomar is a place believed to be a gathering place for pangool.[9] The local population continue to visit this island to venerate ancestors.[10] It is a Serer place of worship and one of the most sacred places in Serer religion. Serer and Jola tradition speak of an ancient legend commonly referred to as the legend of Jambooñ and Agaire.[11] According to this legend, two sisters (Jambooñ and Agaire) boarded a pirogue along with their parties. The boat broke in two at the Point of Sangomar. Those who survived and headed north were the ancestors of the Serer people, and those who headed south became the ancestors of the Jola.[12]

"Sangomar, a Serer place of worship, at Palmarin" appears on the List of monuments and historical sites in Senegal.[13]


  1. « Les études pluridisciplinaires côtières au Sénégal », UNESCO
  2. Bouteiller, J., "De Saint-Louis à Sierra-Leone. Huit ans de navigation dans les rivières du Sud", A. Challamel, Paris, 1891, p. 199
  3. Vézia, Frédérick, "Sénégal : Sine-Saloum, la forêt de l'océan", Éditions de La Martinière, Paris, 2009, p. 21 ISBN 978-2732439655
  4. (in French) « Je ne conseillerai jamais à un capitaine de passer la barre de Sangomar avec un grand navire sans l'avoir balisée au préalable », conseille le capitaine Bouteiller en 1891, in De Saint-Louis à Sierra Leone, op. cit., p. 200
  5. Cesaraccio, Marcella, Thomas, Yves F., & Diaw, Amadou T., « Analyse de l'évolution de la flêche littorale de Sangomar (petite côte de la République du Sénégal) par constitution d'une chronique d'un siècle de données images », conférence au Congrès français de sédimentologie, Orléans, 2001, Association des sédimentologistes français, 2001, n°. 37, p. 69-70
  6. Saint-Martin, Yves-Jean, "Le Sénégal sous le Second Empire", Karthala, Paris, 2000, p. 420 ISBN 2865372014
  7. "Dossier 2. — Chemins de fer. Douane. Routes", [in] Debien, Gabriel, « Papiers Noirot », Bulletin de l'Institut fondamental d'Afrique noire, vol. 26, nos 3-4, juillet-octobre 1964, p. 476-93
  8. Gravrand, Henry, "Visage africain de l'Église", Orante, Paris, 1961, p. 285
  9. Kesteloot, Lilyan, "Les poèmes de Léopold Sédar Senghor", Les Classiques africains, Issy-les-Moulineaux, 1987, p. 138, ISBN 2-85049-376-7
  10. « Sites mythiques du Sénégal : Sangomar, ses merveilles et ses mystères »] (Le Soleil, 13 August 2008, p. 10 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-10-09. Retrieved 2012-04-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. Fata Ndiaye in Ethiopiques (in French) Le SIIN avant les Gelwaar
  12. Ndiaye, Fata, "La saga du peuple sérère et l'Histoire du Sine", Ethiopiques n° 54 revue semestrielle de culture négro-africaine, Nouvelle série volume 7, 2e semestre 1991.
  13. Ministère de la Culture, du Genre et du Cadre de Vie (ed.). "Arrêté N° 12.09.2007 Portant publication de la liste des Sites et Monuments historiques classés". Archived from the original on 2012-02-20.
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