Casamance is the region in southern Senegal that lies south of The Gambia River and the state of The Gambia. Many of the 900,000 people of this region have never felt part of the independent, largely Muslim and Wolof dominated, Senegalese state.1 They are not only physically detached from the main body of the nation, but are culturally distinct, being themselves predominantly Diola and Catholic/animist in religion. This means that they have close links with those in The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau and explains the presence of Casamarn;,ais in both the war of independence and the civil war in Guinea Bissau. The area has not been so deprived of Government assistance in recent years as in the earlier days of independence. It is, nevertheless, only loosely integrated into the political economy of Senegal and just one bridge across The Gambia River links Dakar to the main town of Casamance, Ziguinchor. Not surprisingly, Diola still say, when going to Dakar, that they are 'going to Senegal' (Linares, 1992, p. 212). Certainly the perception of the Diola is that they are both ignored by the central Government and colonised by the 'nordistes' (northerners). Since the land tenure reform of 1972 there has been large scale immigration into the area by northerners, who have received preferential treatment in the redistribution of land. The Democratic League/Labour Party Movement claims that between '1980-81, about 2,000 parcels of land were expropriated or allocated exclusively to non-indigenes in ... districts of Ziguinchor' (quoted in Dykman, 2000, p. 10). The result was that local people were driven to the outskirts of the city where there was no electricity, running water or health clinics. 'This has created in the Casamance population a real feeling of being dominated by strangers who occupy all the posts in the administration, in education and private enterprise (Trincaz, quoted in Linares, 1992, p. 222). Sekou Diatta, head of the Evangelic Fraternity of Senegal claims:

The local population in Casamance is bitter that northerners have taken all the plots in Ziguinchor, the provincial capital and pushed them to the forests and robbed them of their trade in fish and prawns thus creating perpetual unemployment. Woodcutters from the north hew down their forests ... During the mango season [you can see] the rotting fruits for want of a market. Northerners come with their lorries to buy them cheaply so as to sell them dearly in Dakar. This creates a lot of bitterness among the helpless unemployed people.2