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Lat Dior Ngoné Latyr Diop (1842 - 1886), son of Sakhéwère Sokhna Mbaye and the Linguère royal Ngoné Latyr Fall, was a 19th century Damel (king) of Cayor, a Wolof state that is today in south central Sénégal.

Nationalist Hero

A great resistance hero of Senegalese history, famed for his defiance and battles against the French, Lat Dior was deposed twice, in 1869 and 1879.


He converted to Islam around 1861, and made common cause with other Wolof and Fulani states to resist French colonialism. Instrumental in his conversion was the Almamy of Saloum, Maba Diakhou Bâ. An ally of the Toucouleur empire's El Hadj Umar Tall, Maba convinced Lat-Dior both to convert, and to aid non-Wolof Islamic states of the region against their common foes.


Dior led his troops beside Maba in the battle of Rip on 30 November 1865, at the battle of Pathé Badiane in 1864 and Ngol Ngol in 1865. With Lat Dior, Maba took part in the conquests of the states of Sine, Baol and Djolof.

Facing the French

At Kaolack in 1865, they combined forces with soldiers from Waalo, Ndiambour and Ndiander to face the French fortifications of governor Émile Pinet-Laprade but were repulsed.

After the French conquered Waalo, (re-appointed) governor Louis Faidherbe invaded Cayor in 1865 in order to stop the Damel's opposition to the construction of the Dakar to Saint-Louis railway. Dior is reported to have told the later French Governor Servatius:

"As long as I live, be assured, I shall oppose, with all my might the construction of this railway". [ [ BBC. The Story of Africa: Railways.] ] "

But the French defeated Lat Dior's forces at the battle of Dekheule on 26 October 1868, after Faidherbe's retirement. Lat Dior struck a deal for limited autonomy and re-installment in 1871. In response to further French expansion, Cayor rose up again with Dior at their head, only to be defeated and be annexed again in 1879.

The Cayor kingdom was extinguished in its entirety October 6, 1886.

The Legend of Lat Dior

Faidherbe is reputed to have said of Dior's troops: "Ceux-là, on les tue on ne les déshonore pas"." ("They can be killed but never dishonored"). This has been adapted as the motto of the Senegalese Army: "On nous tue, on ne nous déshonore pas".

In Dakar there is a giant statue of Maalaw, the legendary horse of Lat Dior, near the great mosque.

ee also

*Jolof Empire
*History of Senegal


*Marie Casanova, "Lat Dior : le dernier souverain du Cayor", ABC : Nouvelles éditions africaines, 1976
*Amadou Cissé Dia, "Les Derniers jours de Lat Dior" suivi de "La mort du Damel", Présence Africaine, 1965
*Denys Ferrando-Durfort, "Lat Dior : le résistant", Paris, Chiron, 1989, 45 p. ISBN 2702704034
*Vincent Monteil, « Lat-Dior, damel du Kayor (1842-1886) et l'islamisation des Wolofs », in "Esquisses sénégalaises (Wâlo, Kayor, Dyolof, Mourides, un visionnaire)", Dakar, IFAN, 1966, 244 p.
*Mamadou Seyni M'bengue, "Le procès de Lat Dior", D.A.E.C., 1970


*Thierno Bâ, "Lat-Dior - Le chemin de l'honneur, drame historique en huit tableaux", Dakar, Impr. Diop, 1970, 100 p.


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