Mauritania in Focus on Independence DayNov 28, 2020 08:00AM ● By Oga Africa
Happy Independence Day, Mauritania! On November 28, 1960, this Northwestern African country declared independence from the French. Let’s learn about their history of influence on the world, and contributions to societies such as Spain.
The original inhabitants of Mauritania are recorded to be the Berbers, a group that calls itself Amazinghs, and has origins in North Africa.
Between the 11th and 12th century, present day Mauritania was home to the Almoravid Kingdom, a confederation of Berber tribes with power that extended from North Africa to present day Spain. The Almoravids spread Islam in these aforementioned regions. During Africa’s campaign to conquer Spain, which lasted for 800 years, Moors of Berber descent introduced concepts to Spaniards such as bathing frequently, storing spices, new fashion styles, various crops, paper making, music school, running water, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and more. The country’s present name pays homage to ‘Mauretania’, an ancient Berber kingdom in North Africa.
(A depiction of Moors in Spain)
Arabic is the country’s official language, and Fula, Wolof and Soninke are national languages. In 2019, the population was estimated to be approximately 4,095,000 people. The islamic country’s capital is Nouakchott.
(Men fishing in Nouakchott)
The ethnic makeup of this desert filled country comprises subgroups of Moors, including those of Arab, Berber and Spanish ancestry, Berbers or Amazighs, Tukulor, Fulani, Soninke and Wolof tribes. Major exports of Mauritania include Iron Ore, gold and frozen fish.
After gaining independence in 1960, the country’s first president, Moktar Ould Daddah, led an authoritarian rule, and in 1978, he was forcibly removed from office via coup d’etat. The current president of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, was elected in 2019.
(President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani)
Thieboudienne is a common, delicious dish of the country, made with vegetables, rice and fish. Other dishes of the country include Yassa Chicken, green tea (a custom drink), Maffe or peanut stew and more.
Thanks for reading! Explore Mauritanian culture in Philadelphia by visiting African Small Pot on 6505 Woodland Avenue; they serve authentic Mauritanian dishes, including Thieboudienne, Maffe and more!