Collection of vintage portraits of women in Mauritania, taken between the 1930s - 1960s, sent to me by @jimmymansaray.
(click photos for captions)
Various vintage photographs of life in Mauritania during the 1930s - 1960s, sent to me by @jimmymansaray.
(click for captions)
Back in 1981, Mauritania became the last country in the world to abolish slavery. Now, over 30 years later, human rights activists still maintain that this heinous practice still exists and that up to 20% of the country’s population are enslaved, despite claims by the Mauritanian government that it is ‘a thing of the past’.
In response to this, the Mauritanian government has now set up an anti-slavery agency that aims to combat the practice and culture of slavery in the country, as well as reintegrate former enslaved peoples into Mauritanian society.
In this conversation hosted by Al Jazeera, The Stream talks to Mauritanian human rights and anti-slavery activists who break down the situation and complexities of the culture and system of enslavement, under-representation, and systematic marginalization in the country that are sustained by ethnic, and sometimes racial, divides, also bringing in a very important perspective on the relationships between black Africans and Arab colonizers.
Ancient Egyptian scarab made from the rare semi-precious stone lapis lazuli.
Lapis lazuli was being mined in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan as early as the 3rd millennium BC. Trade in the stone is ancient enough for lapis jewelry to have been found at Predynastic Egyptian and ancient Sumerian sites, and as lapis beads at neolithic burials in Mehrgarh, the Caucasus, and even as far from Afghanistan as Mauritania.
Stills from 1967 French-Mauritanian film Soleil O directed by Med Hondo, that was released in 1973.
Masdar, the clean energy company and creator of the eponymous “green city” on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, launched a $32 million solar plant in Mauritania. The Sheikh Zayed Solar Power Plant, located in the capital, Nouakchott, will generate 15 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) power and, according to Masdar, is now the largest PV plant in all of Africa. It will, in fact, deliver 10% of the country’s current electricity load.
Yesterday’s launch of the new solar power plant is significant for several reasons. Masdar City, only one part of the company but the immediate showpiece that comes to mind, is often derided as a fluff project in a country that is one of the world’s highest carbon emitters per capita. And while the United Arab Emirates’ massive carbon output is, of course, concerning, at the same time the UAE’s leadership has shown it is willing to be part of the solution in addressing climate change and energy scarcity. As much of the developed world from the U.S. to Japan is mired in debt and political polarization, there is an opening for such countries in the Middle East as the UAE and nearby Qatar to invest in renewables–after all, their reserves of oil and gas are finite.
Masdar kicked off the Mauritania project last fall as part of its commitment to the UN’s “Year of Sustainable Energy for All.” As announced last year by UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon, Sustainable Energy for All aimed to expand modern energy sources to those who could least afford it; double energy efficiency worldwide; and double the amount of clean electricity and power within the globe’s total energy portfolio. The results may not have been as impressive as the goals, but arguably the UAE, Abu Dhabi and Masdar kept their end of the deal.
Mauritania’s energy grid is currently marred by energy shortages and both expensive and dirty diesel generators. Masdar claims the new solar energy plant, with its 30,000 solar panels in Nouakchott, will displace over 21,000 tons of carbon emissions annually and will provide up to 10 percent of the country’s total energy needs. Should this new plant prove to be an important anchor of Mauritania’s energy potential, more hope is on the horizon: Masdar claims the country’s wind potential is four times the its current energy demands.
A foreign policy from an oil emirate that in part relies on delivering foreign aid via renewables? The UAE is certainly moving forward with this strategy with Masdar at the helm.
We happened to be in Nouakchott, Mauritania while chilling in Africa so we decided to stop in at the country’s only record store, Saphir D’or. Turns out it rules! We chatted with Ahmede Valle, shop proprietor and seasoned DJ, about record collecting and the unifying powers of music.
Photograph by David Clifford, 4See/Redux
Constructed in the 13th or 14th century, the spare Friday Mosque was the heart of the ancient city of Chinguetti, Mauritania, a vibrant trading center on the trans-Saharan route.
The city’s original purpose was to provide religious education to travelers, thus the importance of its mosques.
Women of the Polisario Front in the Western Sahara, 1976.
Abbreviation of Popular Front for the Liberation of , Spanish and Río de OroFrente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y Río de Oro, Polisario was a politico-military organization striving to end Moroccan control of the former Spanish territory of , in northwestern Africa, and win independence for that region. The Polisario Front is composed largely of the indigenous nomadic inhabitants of the region, the Saharawis. The Polisario Front began in May 1973 as an insurgency (based in neighbouring ) against Spanish control of Western Sahara.
After and partitioned Western Sahara between themselves in 1976, the Polisario Front relocated to , which henceforth provided the organization with bases and military aid. Mauritania made peace with the Polisario Front in 1979, but then unilaterally annexed Mauritania’s portion of Western Sahara.withdrew and
During the 1980s Polisario Front guerrillas, numbering some 15,000 motorized and well-armed troops, harassed and raided Moroccan outposts and defenses in Western Sahara. Morocco responded by constructing a berm, or earthen barrier, some 1,240 miles (2,000 km) long, which was completed by 1987.
In the late 1980s and early ’90s, the Polisario Front suffered a series of high-level defections and internal problems in its refugee camps. In addition, although Algerian diplomatic support continued, military support was reduced during the 1990s. Despite these challenges, the Polisario Front’s overall level of legitimacy with the Saharawis and in the global political community appeared largely undiminished.
In 1991 the Polisario Front inaugurated a new, more democratic constitution for the(SADR; declared by the Polisario Front one day after Spanish withdrawal in 1976). In the same year, it accepted a United Nations (UN) peace plan for Western Sahara that provided for a referendum of . Owing to disputes over voter eligibility, the referendum scheduled for early 1992 was postponed, and a series of UN-sponsored talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front were conducted.
Attempts to determine the parameters of the referendum were largely unsuccessful, however, and in 2000 the UNrequested that alternatives to the referendum be considered, a process that remained at an impasse in the early 21st century.
UN-sponsored talks between the Polisario Front and the Moroccan government took place in mid-2007 amid warnings by the Polisario Front of a return to armed hostilities.