Palaver Trees, Senegal - Palaver Trees
Jul 9



With ancestral origins, the palaver tree is an identity of the black continent in Africa, and more precisely in Senegal, it is a symbolic and mythical place.

Villagers Under a mango tree

A palaver tree is a traditional place of gathering and meeting, under the shadow of which people express themselves on life in society, because of the belief in spiritualism the people of Senegal believe that everything is tied to this tress and unraveled by them. The palaver tree is not the name of a single tree, it is a place hence any tree that symbolizes this can be used for such purposes.

The palaver trees could be a Ficus tree, a mango tree, a neem tree, or a kapok tree.

It is a place where kids come to hear a griot or an elder in the village who tells stories, where they can arrange songs and dances about a fire or get to know a hunter’s exploits as a warrior, a king in his kingdom.

Day and night, village life includes meetings under the palaver tree.  A place for learning, telling stories, organizing, and harmonizing daily life or speaking light stories. The place is where people speak, listen, and settle their differences. The name of the tree may change depending on the region it’s found in, its relevance however remains the same as the palaver tree as it grows is believed to have witnessed the life of men.



The palaver tree keeps its leave and provides shades all year round. It is believed that as long as there are voices under its shadow, the tree will continue to live and be relevant to the spiritual needs of the people.

Village life is governed under this tree: weddings, land disputes, news from relatives of neighboring villages, protection of the village against witchcraft, and fieldwork.  Sometimes the palaver tree is one of the courthouses or a tribunal, some differences will be resolved on the spot. In these areas, we do not resort to the police, but to the village council of elders and wise men, and at the end of the harvest, it is also the tree that will bear witness to the competitions of the inter-village wrestling fights. The cohesion of the village community is thus ensured, just as peace and understanding between inhabitants of the same village, then between neighboring villages are ensured.

The African palaver tree is a whole philosophical method, and its roots run deep, generating peace and beauty. The palaver tree is a mechanism for maintaining peace, social order, and social cohesion. It is an instrument for managing crises and conflicts within the community. Its philosophical foundation is the peaceful coexistence and self-control of villages.


Palaver trees can be found across Senegal and some can be seen on some tours, particularly tours that include places like the Saloum Delta or African Bush market excursions Palaver trees can be visited in some villages such as Fadiouth, Ndianda, and Marlodj island.


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