With decent French and minimal Wolof, I'm only scratching at the surface of the complexity of language in this country. However, I have a few observations to make. First of all, Wolof is the first language of almost everyone in Senegal. There are a few other West African dialects, but Wolof is huge. It's the language of conversation. Everything official (school, government, street signs, TV, radio, business) is in French. Senegalese usually learn French when they start school and this is reinforced by listening to the radio, watching TV and speaking to teachers. This creates an interesting dichotomy of language. Despite having an incredible grasp of the French language, even my very educated family, will never speak French to each other. If I am a part of a conversation with a single Senegalese, we will speak French to accomidate me. However, as soon as another Senegalese joins, the conversation turns to Wolof. Despite complete grasp of the language, it seems extremely rare that two Senegalese would speak French to each other.
One implication of this dichotomy is that all higher thought is not done in the mother tongue. I can't say that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it must seem slightly unnatural to have all of professional and academic life outside of one's first language. I had heard that there was a push (however strong) to write books in Wolof, but I haven't heard much of this since then. While I imagine that changing the official language (or even just school) to Wolof would take a huge amount of bureaucracy-tackling and effort, I can't help but think of how much easier education and professional life would be if it were in Senegal's first language. There are heavy reminants of colonialism in the way that French is used here.
To add to the difficulty of learning everything in a second language, Senegal students also learn English, Arabic and Spanish. Senegal is 90% Muslim, so learning Arabic is stressed as part of religious education. Spanish is a useful language since many of the educated young move to Spain to find work out of geographic ease (exhibit A of the brain-drain). And pretty much everyone has realized that the most international language is English. People are dying to learn it.