/woh"lof/, n.a language of Senegal, a Niger-Congo language closely related to Fulani.
* * *Muslim people of Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauretania.They speak a language of the Atlantic branch of the Niger-Congo family. In the 14th–16th century the Wolof maintained a powerful empire. Traditional Wolof society was highly stratified, consisting of royalty, an aristocracy, a warrior class, commoners, slaves, and members of despised artisan castes. Today most Wolof (numbering some 5 million) are farmers, but many live and work in Dakar, Senegal, and Banjul, The Gambia. Wolof women are renowned for their elaborate hair styles, abundant gold ornaments, and voluminous dresses. Nearly half the people of Senegal are Wolof.
* * *▪ peoplealso spelled Ouolofa Muslim people of Senegal and The Gambia (Gambia, The) who speak the Wolof language of the Atlantic branch (Atlantic languages) of the Niger-Congo language family.The typical rural community is small (about 100 persons). Most Wolof are farmers, growing peanuts (groundnuts) as a cash crop and millet and sorghum as staples; many, however, live and work in Dakar and Banjul as traders, goldsmiths, tailors, carpenters, teachers, and civil servants. Traditional groups were characterized by a markedly hierarchical social stratification, including royalty, an aristocracy, a warrior class, commoners, slaves, and members of low-status artisan castes; at their head was a paramount chief.In the past the Wolof observed double descent; i.e., descent was traced through both the male and female lines. Islamic influence, however, has tended to make the male line dominant. A household (kinship) unit may consist of a nuclear family (husband, wife, and minor children) or a polygynous family (a husband, his several wives, and their children); other close kin, however, may sometimes be found together with the nuclear family. Wolof women are renowned for their elaborate hairstyles, abundant gold ornaments, and voluminous dresses.
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