The Grave Preferences of Mourides in Senegal: Migration, Belonging, and Rootedness

Ato Kwamena Onoma


Burial in cemeteries created by and on the orders of Cheikh Amadou Bamba, the founder of the Mouride Sufi order in Senegal, is said to guarantee passage to paradise. While many Mourides, understand¬ably, prefer to have their corpses transported for burial in these cemeter¬ies, others opt to be interred elsewhere. Focusing on the commune of Joal-Fadiouth in Senegal, I argue that the choices of Mourides concerning place of burial are influenced by histories of migration in the commune and the processes through which people develop ties to the area. In explaining Mourides’ divergent preferences, the paper sheds light on broader questions of identity and rootedness, evolving conceptions of “place of origin” – as well as illuminating interactions between the reli-gious and non-religious spheres in the lives of many Africans. I draw mainly on ethnographic research in the Thies and Diourbel Regions of Senegal.

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