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Walking Free In Mauritania


by Dominica Carranza



Welcome to the diverse and captivating region of Africa and the Middle East, where ancient civilizations coexist with modern developments. This article explores the fascinating cultural and historical aspects of this region, with a focus on Africa and the Middle East. As an SEO expert with deep knowledge of these territories, I will guide you through a comprehensive journey that encompasses the rich heritage, vibrant traditions, and remarkable landscapes.


Africa, also known as the cradle of humanity, is a continent that engulfs a vast array of cultures, languages, and environments. From the ancient wonders of Egypt to the bustling markets of Morocco, Africa offers a tapestry of experiences that are certain to captivate anyone who ventures into its embrace. The Middle East, on the other hand, is a region packed with diverse and dynamic nations. From the architectural marvels of Dubai to the historic sites of Jerusalem, the Middle East is a melting pot of old and new, tradition and innovation.


Throughout this article, we will delve into the rich historical background of Africa and the Middle East, uncovering the ancient civilizations that have shaped these regions into what they are today. We will also explore the unique cultural practices and traditions that continue to thrive amidst the rapid modernization taking place in these areas.


Furthermore, I will shed light on the ongoing challenges and opportunities faced by these regions, including issues related to human rights, economic development, and social progress. This article aims to provide a balanced perspective on the Africa and Middle East regions, highlighting both their strengths and areas for improvement.


By delving into the history, cultural significance, and current affairs of Africa and the Middle East, we hope to not only enhance your understanding of these regions but also inspire you to embark on your own journey of exploration. So, let us embark on this captivating voyage as we delve into the realms of Africa and the Middle East, uncovering the beauty, the challenges, and the uniqueness of these remarkable lands.


Historical Background of Mauritania

Mauritania, located in Northwest Africa, possesses a rich and complex history that spans thousands of years. The region was initially inhabited by Berber and Arab tribes, with various empires, such as the Ghana Empire and the Malian Empire, exerting influence over the territory. Mauritania was also a significant trading hub along the trans-Saharan trade routes, facilitating the exchange of goods and ideas between Africa and the Arab world.


In the 15th century, European explorers began arriving in Mauritania, paving the way for colonial rule. The French established their presence in the region in the late 19th century, and Mauritania became a part of French West Africa. Under French colonial rule, the region experienced significant social, economic, and political changes that shaped the trajectory of the country.


After years of struggle for independence, Mauritania finally gained sovereignty in 1960. However, the challenges of building a stable and unified nation proved to be a formidable task. Ethnic tensions and political unrest plagued the country for several decades, with military coups and changes in leadership further complicating the situation.


Throughout its history, Mauritania has been shaped by its diverse ethnic groups, such as the Moors, Soninkes, Fulanis, and Wolof. The coexistence of these different communities has contributed to the cultural mosaic that defines modern-day Mauritania.


It is essential to note that Mauritania has a particularly complex history regarding slavery. Historically, slavery was deeply ingrained in Mauritanian society, with various ethnic groups, primarily the Arab-Berber Moors, enslaving individuals belonging to black African ethnicities. Slavery was not officially abolished in Mauritania until 1981, making it one of the last countries in the world to do so.


Today, Mauritania continues to grapple with the legacy of its past, striving to reconcile with its history while building a more inclusive and equitable future for its citizens.


The Phenomenon of Slavery in Mauritania

The history of slavery in Mauritania is a dark and deeply rooted one. For centuries, the practice of slavery was prevalent, particularly within the Arab-Berber Moors community. Slavery in Mauritania was characterized by the enslavement of individuals from black African ethnic groups, including Haratin, Soninkes, Wolof, and Fulanis.


Slavery in Mauritania was based on a rigid caste system, with individuals born into either the slave class or the slave-owning class. Those born into slavery, known as “Haratin,” were considered the property of their masters and were subjected to a life of servitude, often working in agricultural fields or as domestic servants.


This system was underpinned by deeply ingrained social and cultural norms that justified and maintained the institution of slavery. The belief in racial superiority, as well as religious justifications, were used to perpetuate the system and maintain power dynamics within Mauritanian society.


Slavery in Mauritania also had profound implications for gender dynamics. Women born into slavery, known as “Nayats,” faced additional forms of exploitation and abuse, including forced labor, sexual exploitation, and intergenerational enslavement.


Despite the abolishment of slavery in 1981, the remnants of this institution continue to persist in Mauritania. The legacy of slavery is still deeply intertwined with social, economic, and political structures in the country.


It is important to note that accurate data on the prevalence of slavery in Mauritania is challenging to obtain due to its clandestine nature. However, various human rights organizations estimate that tens of thousands of individuals remain in conditions of slavery or are vulnerable to enslavement.


The government of Mauritania has taken some steps to address the issue of slavery, including passing legislation criminalizing slavery and establishing institutions to combat the practice. However, enforcement of these laws and efforts to eradicate slavery remain insufficient, and progress has been slow.


Overcoming the deeply entrenched practice of slavery in Mauritania requires not only legal action but also a concerted effort to address the underlying social, economic, and cultural factors that perpetuate it. This includes promoting education and awareness, empowering marginalized communities, and challenging deeply ingrained beliefs and attitudes.


While the road to eradicating slavery in Mauritania is long and challenging, there are signs of progress. Civil society organizations and human rights activists are working tirelessly to bring attention to the issue and advocate for change. The international community also plays a crucial role in supporting these efforts and ensuring that Mauritania upholds its commitment to eliminating slavery in all its forms.


Abolition of Slavery and Progress Made

The abolition of slavery in Mauritania in 1981 marked a significant turning point in the country’s history. This landmark legislation aimed to put an end to the centuries-old practice of slavery and dismantle the social structures that supported it. However, the journey towards full emancipation has been long and arduous.


The government of Mauritania has taken steps to address the issue of slavery and has implemented various laws and policies to combat the practice. In addition to the 1981 law abolishing slavery, the Criminal Code of 2007 criminalizes slavery and imposes penalties for those involved in its perpetuation.


Several institutions have been established to advance the eradication of slavery. The National Agency to Fight Against the Vestiges of Slavery, Integration, and Fight Against Poverty (Tadamoun) works to implement programs that facilitate the integration of former slaves into society and provide support for their socioeconomic empowerment.


Despite these efforts, challenges remain in effectively enforcing the laws and providing adequate protection for individuals who have been victims of slavery. Social and cultural barriers continue to impede progress, as deep-rooted traditional norms often clash with the principles of equality and human rights.


However, there have been instances of progress and positive change. The increased visibility and awareness of the issue have led to a significant reduction in the prevalence of slavery. The Mauritanian government has made commitments before international organizations to eradicate slavery, and there have been successful prosecutions of individuals involved in enslaving others.


Furthermore, the tireless work of civil society organizations and human rights activists has been crucial in advocating for the rights of former slaves and raising awareness about the issue both domestically and internationally. These organizations provide support to individuals who have escaped or been freed from slavery, offering them shelter, access to education, and opportunities for economic empowerment.


The international community also plays an important role in supporting Mauritania’s efforts. International organizations, such as the United Nations and the International Labor Organization, provide financial and technical assistance, as well as monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance with international human rights standards.


While progress has been made, it is important to acknowledge that the road to full emancipation and the elimination of slavery in Mauritania is still ongoing. Continuous efforts are needed to strengthen legal frameworks, enforce anti-slavery laws, and address the socioeconomic inequalities that perpetuate the vulnerability of marginalized communities.


By working collaboratively and persistently, Mauritania can continue to make strides towards the eradication of slavery, ensuring that all individuals are treated with dignity, equality, and respect.


Current Perspectives on Slavery in Mauritania

Despite the legal abolition of slavery in Mauritania, the remnants of this deplorable practice continue to persist, shaping the current perspectives on slavery in the country. The existence of slavery is often downplayed or denied by some, while others acknowledge its presence but assert that it is less prevalent than in the past. However, the reality is that slavery still lingers in the shadows of Mauritanian society.


It is important to recognize that the practice of slavery has evolved over time. While overt forms of slavery are less common, hidden forms of exploitation, such as debt bondage, forced labor, and human trafficking, persist. Vulnerable populations, particularly those belonging to specific ethnic groups, continue to face exploitation and discrimination.


One perspective on slavery in Mauritania argues that it is an issue of socio-economic inequality rather than a purely racial or ethnic one. Advocates of this perspective assert that poverty and lack of education perpetuate a cycle of vulnerability, making individuals more susceptible to exploitation and perpetuating the cycle of servitude.


On the other hand, some argue that slavery in Mauritania is deeply rooted in historical and cultural factors. The rigid caste system, combined with entrenched beliefs in racial superiority, perpetuates the subjugation of certain ethnic groups. These systemic and cultural factors make it challenging to completely eradicate slavery and address the deeply ingrained power dynamics that allow it to persist.


Human rights organizations and activists continue to bring attention to the issue of slavery in Mauritania, working tirelessly to shed light on the extent of the problem. By documenting and sharing stories of individuals who have been victims of slavery, they aim to raise awareness and advocate for change.


Mauritanian society itself is not homogenous in its perspective on slavery. There are individuals and groups within Mauritanian society who recognize the injustice of slavery and actively work towards its eradication. These individuals may come from different backgrounds, ethnicities, or social classes, but they share a common goal of promoting equality and justice in their country.


Public opinion surrounding slavery in Mauritania is also influenced by external factors. International pressure and scrutiny have played a role in shining a light on the issue and increasing awareness at the global level. The involvement of international human rights organizations, as well as diplomatic pressure from foreign governments, has prompted the Mauritanian government to take some measures to address the issue.


However, significant challenges remain in addressing slavery effectively. A lack of resources, corruption, and limited capacity to enforce anti-slavery laws hinder progress in eradication efforts. Additionally, the stigma associated with being a former slave or belonging to a marginalized community creates additional barriers to seeking justice and equal opportunities.


Changing the current perspectives on slavery in Mauritania requires a multi-faceted approach. It entails addressing the socio-economic and cultural factors that perpetuate the practice, providing comprehensive support and protection for victims, strengthening the legal framework, and fostering a societal shift in attitudes towards equality and human rights.


Ultimately, a united effort from within Mauritanian society, supported by international collaboration, is crucial to combatting slavery and ending the cycle of exploitation and discrimination in the country.


Human Rights Efforts and Challenges in Mauritania

Mauritania has faced significant challenges in upholding human rights, particularly in relation to the eradication of slavery and the protection of marginalized communities. Efforts to address these issues have been met with obstacles, but there have also been notable strides in promoting human rights in the country.


Human rights organizations and activists play a crucial role in shedding light on human rights abuses and advocating for change in Mauritania. They document cases of slavery, discrimination, and injustice, raising awareness both domestically and internationally. These organizations work tirelessly to ensure that the voices of the marginalized are heard, and that their rights are upheld.


In recent years, the Mauritanian government has taken steps to address human rights concerns. Legislative actions, such as the reinforcement of anti-slavery laws and the criminalization of other human rights violations, demonstrate a commitment to combating human rights abuses. Furthermore, the establishment of institutions, such as the National Human Rights Commission, aims to safeguard human rights and provide avenues for redress.


However, challenges persist in the practical implementation and enforcement of human rights laws and policies. The lack of resources, institutional capacity, and training for law enforcement officials present significant obstacles. This often results in inadequate investigations, prosecutions, and protection for victims of human rights violations.


Another challenge is the cultural and social norms that perpetuate discrimination and inequality. Traditional beliefs and deeply entrenched societal structures sometimes hinder the progress of human rights efforts. Overcoming these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that combines legal reforms, education, awareness-raising, and community engagement.


Furthermore, discrimination and marginalization extend beyond the issue of slavery. Minority groups, such as the Haratin population, face social, economic, and political disadvantages. Gender-based discrimination is another concerning issue, as women and girls often experience discrimination and limited access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities.


International support and collaboration have been crucial in promoting human rights in Mauritania. The United Nations and various non-governmental organizations provide technical assistance, capacity building, and financial support to initiatives aimed at combating slavery, promoting equality, and safeguarding the human rights of all Mauritanian citizens.


Addressing the challenges and advancing human rights in Mauritania requires a multi-stakeholder approach. It involves collaboration between the government, civil society organizations, international partners, and affected communities. Empowering marginalized groups, strengthening the legal framework, and fostering a culture of respect for human rights are necessary steps towards building a more inclusive and equitable society.


Ultimately, the progress made in promoting human rights in Mauritania should be celebrated, while acknowledging that there is still much work to be done. By addressing the challenges and working collectively, Mauritania can continue to make strides towards ensuring the protection and fulfillment of human rights for all its citizens.


Cultural Significance of Walking Free

Walking Free holds immense cultural significance in Mauritania, symbolizing emancipation, empowerment, and the triumph over the legacy of slavery. For those individuals who have escaped or been freed from slavery, Walking Free represents a newfound sense of liberation and the reclamation of their human rights.


Walking Free carries both individual and collective meaning. On an individual level, it signifies the end of a life in servitude and the opportunity to forge their own path, free from the control and exploitation of others. It represents the restoration of their autonomy, dignity, and fundamental freedoms.


For the broader Mauritanian society, Walking Free serves as a powerful statement against the oppressive remnants of slavery and a reminder of the urgent need for societal change. It challenges deeply ingrained social norms and stereotypes, promoting the recognition of the equal worth and value of all individuals.


This symbolic act also signifies the ongoing struggle for human rights in Mauritania. By publicly walking free, survivors of slavery and activists send a powerful message about the fight against slavery and the need for justice and equality. Their act of courage and defiance aims to inspire others and spark a collective movement for change.


Walking Free is not simply a physical act; it is a means of reclaiming cultural identity and heritage. Former slaves who walk free are reclaiming their place in society, asserting their rights, and demanding recognition for their history and experiences.


Through Walking Free, survivors of slavery and human rights activists aim to break the cycle of silence and stigma that often surrounds the issue of slavery. They challenge societal attitudes, stimulate dialogue, and raise awareness about the persistence of slavery in Mauritania. By doing so, they hope to inspire empathy, understanding, and a collective commitment to eradicating this deplorable practice.


The cultural significance of Walking Free extends beyond Mauritania’s borders. It serves as a reminder to the international community of the ongoing struggle for human rights and the need for global solidarity in addressing the issue of slavery. It calls upon governments, organizations, and individuals worldwide to actively support efforts to combat slavery and promote human rights for all.


Walking Free also offers hope for a more inclusive and equitable future in Mauritania. It symbolizes the potential for societal growth and transformation, as individuals who were once bound by chains can now envision a life of freedom and opportunity. The cultural significance of Walking Free lies in its ability to inspire change and reshape attitudes towards equality and human rights.


As Mauritania continues to confront the legacy of slavery and strives towards freedom and justice, Walking Free stands as a resilient symbol of the indomitable human spirit and the power of collective action. It is a testament to the resilience, courage, and determination of those who have walked the path to liberation, and a call to end the remnants of slavery once and for all.



The Africa and Middle East region is a diverse and captivating land that encompasses a rich tapestry of cultures, histories, and landscapes. From the ancient wonders of Egypt to the bustling souks of Morocco, these lands are steeped in tradition and hold significant historical importance.


Throughout this article, we have explored the historical background of Mauritania, shedding light on its complex past and the phenomenon of slavery that has shaped the country. We have examined the efforts made to abolish slavery and the progress achieved so far. However, challenges remain in fully eradicating slavery and upholding human rights in the country.


The cultural significance of Walking Free in Mauritania resonates on both an individual and collective level, symbolizing liberation from a life of servitude and the reclamation of human rights. It serves as a rallying cry for justice, demanding societal change and recognition of the equal worth of all individuals.


Human rights efforts in Mauritania face numerous challenges, including limited resources, cultural barriers, and social inequality. However, the commitment of human rights organizations, activists, and international partners offers hope for progress in addressing these challenges.


The African and Middle Eastern region is a mosaic of resilience, diversity, and potential. By nurturing a culture of equality, promoting education, and advocating for the rights of marginalized communities, these lands can move towards a more inclusive and equitable future.


It is crucial for the international community to support and collaborate with the countries of Africa and the Middle East in their quest for human rights and social justice. By working together, we can amplify the voices of those who have been silenced and create lasting change.


In conclusion, the Africa and Middle East region holds a wealth of history, cultures, and experiences waiting to be explored. As we continue to navigate the complexities of this dynamic region, let us ensure that human rights and equality are at the forefront of our collective efforts, ultimately forging a future where freedom, dignity, and justice prevail.