January 17, 2009


This is Matalibe also known as Picasso. I met him while he was doing his sand paintings in front of the French Cultural Center in Nouakchott. He had plenty of empty milk cartons that he used to mix his pigments with sand and white glue and he was painting away and hanging them on the trees around him. I cannot remember where he was from (Mauritania is the country that bridges the arabo-berber countries in the north with the black ethnies countries in the south so a melting pot )but he went around travalling and selling his sand paintings.

Mariam Ba from Bogué avillage in the south of Mauritania. She is a Peul, an ethnie that can ba found in Niger, Mali, Senegal and Guinée. Here she's taking a rest before she serves lunch at the Auberge Sahara.

And here at work cooking for the tourists and staff of the auberge.

Abou he's a music tape seller and Cher a car washer, they work not far from the church in an open area that used to have great shade but whose trees where brutally cut 6 months ago but thanks to the african weather they're sprouting again but no shade for the workers.
Another Peul woman, selling earthware close to the market 5ème. There are 4 or 5 languages spoken in Mauritania, Hassania, dialectical arabe, Hal Pulaar, Wolof, Soninké and Bambara as well as French that sometimes is the only one that links everybody.

At the marché 5ème we also find the bead sellers, this one comes from Niger, a Touareg and has been selling here for many years.

Still in the same market also known as the african market, two young girls, from Bogué doing each other's head while waiting for clients in the hairdressers shop.

I'll eat here sometimes when I'm staying long in the market, best time to draw is a very hot day after lunch, otherwise people trying to peep your drawings will block the small narrow alleys of the market! This restaurant runned by Dinta Ba, another Peul but from Senegal,and she did ask me for the drawing so I did a copy and gave it to her. The whole restaurant is just a room so we just sat not far from where Dinta has her big pots on the floor of course, there's a plastic kind of carpet.

Last one a portrait of a maure lying down, the maures are a mix of Berberes and Arabes (that first invaded this area on the XI century AD), their language is the Hassania, a dialectical arabe and you have white maures and black maures, the black ones beeing ancient slaves or tributaires that adopted, the religion, language and uses of the formers. Complex society and ways.


  1. I just found your beautiful blog. How wonderful to look at your detailed sketches of life in such a faraway place. It is like an education just to read your descriptions. Thank you for a window on another part of the world. Your watercolors are lovely. Such luscious colors!