January 31, 2012

Tradition et modernité

January 25, 2012


 Medina 3, Nouakchott, underneath the tree, men play draughts.
 a "forgeron" or silversmith, with an old instrument to drill holes in the wood. Marché Artisanale, Route de Rosso
Mamadou Anne, painter, singing and playing his red guitar at the opening of his exhibition at the Institute Français, Nouakchott

January 19, 2012

Plantes médicinales de Mauritanie

 I went to this talk today about healing herbs in Mauritania, a book as been published naming all the trees and herbs and its properties that can be found in the Sahara all the way to the river Senegal written by Michel Thouzery and Abdallahi O Mohamed Vall. The book itself is a very good source of information with all the names not only in french but in all the local languages, as a bonus, the plates with the drawings of the plants have been done by Marie-Françoise Delarozière, a lady that lived and worked as the Director of the French Culturel Center in Nouakchott in the 90's and which draw and painted all aspects of the Mauritanian traditions publishing many books that are valuable as ,any of the things she covered are slowly disapearing. Her watercolours and drawings are beautiful. A number of those books are being distributed at a symbolic price in Mauritania so that students and traditional practicioners can have access to them. Another part can be found at the Institute Français and at Galerie Sinaa where in exchange of a donation you'll be having your own copy. The money is going towards translating the book in arabic, so be generous.

January 09, 2012

Ouadane 2012 and Zaida

 Portrait of Zaida
I spent 12 days in Ouadane at my friends Zaida's Auberge Vasque I cut my phone and access to internet was impossible. Hermann and I spent some days helping her decorate and prepare the place for the big Festival of the Ancient Villages, Ouadane 2012 starting the 4th February and lasting a week. Music, poetry, camel races and lots of activities and exhibitions are being prepared.
 Ouadane in the region of Adrar is one of the ancient villages from the time of the caravans where the first universities of the desert were born.
 The day I arrived some friends and neighbours were having a cookie lesson from a French tourist. Actually French nationals are told not to travel in Mauritania as most of the country is considered red zone. But the region of the Adrar is probably the safest of all the country because of its geographical position firstly and due to the interests of Total and other Canadian and Chinese companies. In the region local Army and French "army instructors" are abondant.
 One of the engines being used to make the dirty track of 180 Km from Atar to Ouadane more confortable. Ouadane has only had electricity on the last year. Most of the houses haven't got running water and as in most of the country there are no sewage system. But Ouadane has been using the ecological dry toilettes since the beginning of its existence.
 Children were on holidays and the weather was extremely cold so TV was a must for them but amazingly the favorite programme of adults and children alike was a Mexican "telenovela"" Mari Chuy
A big group of japanese tourists came to visit and stayed at Ouadane it seems Japan imports a lot of octopus from Mauritania and these as the Italians, the German, Dutch and Americans we met didn't seem to think that travelling through this wonderful landscapes where the locals are so friendly was a threat to their lives more serious than just living.
or New Year we drove to an Oasis not far from Ouadane and had a great "mechouie" lamb grilled over a charcoal fired prepared by dada who delighted as with local songs while Zaida and I tried to do our best at dancing all by candlelight.