Pikine: An Underdog Story

Pikine: An Underdog Story

Whenever I meet someone from Pikine, their pride in their city is unmistakable. It's like when a New Yorker brags about being from Brooklyn or the Bronx. I grew up in Parcelle Assainies, but I can’t compete with the pride that Pikinois have for their city. During my research for a podcast episode on Ndongo Lo, I delved into the history of Pikine and began to understand that this immense pride is deeply rooted in a fascinating history that's nothing short of an underdog's tale.

In the 1950s, Dakar faced overpopulation and slums began to sprout in areas like Fass and Colobane. The folks who couldn't afford a better place to live rolled up their sleeves and started building with the limited resources they had. This makeshift community was further complicated by rural Senegalese moving to the area in search of better opportunities, similar to what pushed many of our parents to leave Senegal.

French colonial authorities decided to relocate these people to Pikine, a former military site, about 10 miles outside of Dakar. Pikine was originally intended to serve as a dormitory town for those who were relocated from the shanty towns of inner Dakar. As time passed, however, many people began to settle outside of Pikine's boundaries, resulting in rapid urban growth that soon outpaced urban planning.

These people were cast away with no resources and left to fend for themselves. Pikine’s booming population was largely neglected when it came to the allocation of development resources. In turn, unemployment, poverty, and lack of sanitation infrastructure plagued the city. For decades, Pikinois were seemingly abandoned in favor of wealthier Dakar neighborhoods

Fast forward to 2004, 60% of Pikine's population is under 21. Imagine all those young people hunting for opportunities, and realizing they had to make their way. It's no surprise that this environment bred a unique mindset in Pikine. Pikinois took matters into their own hands to build up their city and secure their futures.

In neighborhoods across the world, especially in regions with large populations of African migrants living in poverty, like certain parts of Paris, sports and music often serve as a means of escape. Pikine is no exception. During a recent conversation with an acquaintance about this, he joked that Pikine is known for the "Systeme LMD." In Senegal, "LMD" typically stands for "License, Master, Doctorat" (Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate). However, in Pikine, the running joke is that it means "Lutte, Danse, Musique" (Wrestling, Dance, Music), suggesting that these are the only things Pikinois know how to do. Sure, they've produced incredible artists and athletes like Thione Seck, Balla Beye, and Ndongo Lo, but they're also home to scholars, politicians, and academics. Here is a list of some notable figures below.


Every Pikine resident will tell you that making it out of this city is a challenge. Opportunities are scarce, and competition is fierce. Yet, this tough environment, coupled with Pikine's history, has given rise to a go-getter mentality that sets its people apart from those in other parts of Dakar.

"Pikinité is first and foremost dignity. It is to share your own life and to give everything of you, to respect your locality in all its social and professional classes. It is to know to forget and wish only the progress of your fellows." - Lamine, Wakhinane II Quartier Mballo Der.

Pikine was the inspiration for the designs below. If you are from Pikine, you can proudly represent your city in style!


Man wearing Pikine sweatshirt

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