Senegal first gained independence in June of 1960 in a federation with Mali called the Mali Federation. The anthem of this federation, titled “Un Hymn du Mali” (A Song of Mali), used lyrics written by a prominent Senegalese politician, the music was written by a Malian, and thus was deemed to require replacing when the federation dissolved two months later, as Mali retained the music upon its independence from the federation. New music was written by a French composer who also composed the music for the Central African Republic and the lyrics of the federation’s anthem (whose author was now the country’s first president) were retained, with some slight changes.

The “koras” (a harp-lute) and “balafons” (a xylophone-type instrument) mentioned in the anthem title and opening line are native instruments to this African nation, and can be used in the playing of the national anthem.