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Getting Married to a Senegalese Man or Woman (in Senegal)

March 14, 2009

Question from Carol :

“I am about to marry a senagalese man. I am blond and scottish. any advice besides no. 50 sunscreen. i love senegal already! Are there many scottish there.”

Before I go into more general considerations about marrying locally, here is what I replied to Carol in the comments section of my earlier post on Senegalese beauty.

“Hi Carol,

Wow, congratulations ! All my best wishes for your marriage.

Mmhh… advice ? Well, you mentionned the only one I had for you :) Senegal is a lot easier when you are married to someone from there, because you really avoid all the disadvantages that non-integrated expats have to go through. The only thing I found annoying (being married to a Senegalese woman myself) is walking around in the street, and having people look at you because you’re a mixed couple. Although it does occasionally happen, it is rare that people actually make derogatory comments, but I really found the looks very invasive. The one thing I’ve appreciated since I’ve been back in Europe for a couple months now is being able to walk in the street without anyone really giving a damn. Apart from that, I always felt very privildged compared to my Western friends, because I always really got the best of both worlds : Senegal from the inside when I felt like it, and, when I wanted to take a break and be an expat again for a bit, I could still do that too.

Again, all my best wishes, and keep us posted !”

On a more general level, one obviously has to be cautious about the whole thing. I have seen a lot of different types of marriages : true love, mutual arrangement (I am old, ugly and relatively rich, you are young, pretty and poor), one-directional love, etc.

There are really 3 things you have to be aware of :

– the religious aspect : many families will ask that, if you are a man, you convert to Islam before marrying their daughter. They usually don’t care whether you practice or not, but it’s still not something most of us feel comfortable with doing. I do know of a lot who have though, and it is pretty much a standard for men wanting to marry locally. This does not apply to women as the interpretation of Islam they apply states that men can marry women of any religion they want.

– the financial aspect : just like anywhere around the world, including within our own capital cities, some people get married for financial reasons. Well, as you can expect, in a country where 95% of the population is less well-off than 95% of our population, the odds of it happening are pretty high.

– the visa aspect : a lot of people in Senegal dream to go to Europe, where they think that money grows off trees (although, to be fair, it often kind of does compared to Senegal). Getting married is probably the easiest way to a long term visa, and then citizenship.

My conclusion ? Just like everywhere, but a bit more I guess, there can often be mixed intentions. You therefore have to be careful. That being said, there are a lot of true, sincere couples out there, and the worst thing would be to assume, when you run into a Senegalo-European couple, that their relationship is not based on mutual true love.


From → People

  1. carol permalink

    Hi you are amazing. I want to answer more personally but do not know how. You did it. This is true love, I know the difference. I had no idea I would meet a black man of a different religion as I am very religious and fall in love but I we did. He has citizenship in a country where english is the first language and a passport from there too.He speaks fluent english french and wollof. I am studying wollof. You are right about Europe, it is easy to be a mixed couple there. I dont know if we will live in Senagal, he has a great secure job in an english speaking country. I have a great job in the UK. He is willing to relocate to my country but I will probably relocate to his. THere is no sun in the UK! We just know we want to get married. We both have been married before, we know marriage is not always easy, but love is the only thing and the only reason to get married ever in our view. GOD is GOD no matter what you call him, he doesnt care what religion I am. My religion does not care about the religion of the spouse. That is irrelevant. THanks ANd Paris is a good option as is QUebec. I also speak French. I am used to people looking at me as I have light blonde hair blue eyes fair skin and am 5ft9. When I have been in NEpal with a friend with red hair people came from other villages to see us they thought we were ghosts. When I am in NAples people also stare. In Scotland I blend right in. I have never seen a black person in Scotland ever. I am not joking. He could marry anyone he wanted, he just for some reason chose me and I feel the same. This is going to be an interesting marriage.PEople can stare all they want I just smile back.

    • Hi
      I have met and fallen in love with a Senegalese,Belgian man. However I am Scottish,German He professes his love for me and I want to believe and trust but have this gut feeling he may have a wife in Senegal Can I check this out any where? I live inEdinburgh and have a small business. He is a chef in Glasgow but not earning much. Any advise would be much appreciated.

      Thank you

      • Axel Taren permalink

        What is it with all you Scottish ladies and Senegalese men 😉 ?

        I’m not aware of any way of checking this.

        It’s always going to be a tough call I guess, between wanting to trust the person you’re in love with, and wanting to be cautious.

        So, and this won’t be politically correct, but here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
        – does he already have his paperwork, ie long term visa/residence/citizenship, or does he need to be locally married to obtain it?
        – is there a big age difference between you two, and more specifically, are you considerably older than him?

        If the answer to both is yes, then obviously it’s harder to be convinced that his feelings are genuine – it doesn’t mean they aren’t, just that it’s harder!

        And also, his feelings being genuine and him having a wife back home are not mutually incompatible, but if you are confident in his sincerity about his feelings towards you, then it makes it a lot easier to trust what he says about his situation back home.

        All best!

  2. alexgrouet permalink

    Wow. That’s a pretty busy life you’ve had 🙂 Sounds amazing. I am sure everything will go very well, and at least, in Senegal, no one will think you are a ghost ! Again, all my very best wishes. Take care.

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