A man with a mouth is never lost, goes a popular Wolof saying, and the Senegalese are indeed rarely lost, at least not for words. Conversation is the key to local culture, and the key to conversation is a great sense of humor and a quick-witted tongue. The Senegalese love talking, teasing and testing you out, and the better you can fall into the conversational game, the quicker you will be accepted. The words flow endlessly, the storytellers are always a step ahead of their audience, and the truth is rarely allowed to get in the way of a good story. The Wolof make up about 43% of the entire population of Senegal.
The Wolof are one of the largest people groups that inhabit modern day Senegal. They live anywhere from the desert area of the Sahara, to the rain forests. Traditionally, may of the Wolof lived in small villages governed by an extended family unit. Today most of the Wolof have moved to cities where they are able to get jobs.
Most Wolof are Muslim; in fact, to be Wolof is many times considered the same as being a Muslim. Their most popular art forms are beautiful amulets, which contain written sections of the Koran. These written sections are enclosed in silver jewelry, or in leather carrying bags. The Wolof are also known as the merchants of West Africa; they are very aggressive in trading, which is a big part of their history. Historically, the Wolof are especially known for their involvement in the slave trade. They worked capturing, transporting, and selling slaves from the port in Dakar, which brought them involvement with many of the people groups throughout Africa.
Culturally, clothing is very important to the Wolof, who are a very style conscious society. To a Wolof, what you wear says a tremendous amount about yourself. Women will dress elaborately; many times going into debt just to be dressed up to an occasion. They also wear elaborate hairstyles and exquisite makeup. The Wolof are known as the trend-setters of West Africa. The family unit is very important to the Wolof. Many times a man and all his brothers and their wives and children will live together in a single compound. Many Wolof are polygamous, however, polygamy does not seem to be considered natural to many of the Wolof, who, soon after obtaining a second wife are divorced from the first.