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Mauritius, island country in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa. Physiographically, it is part of the Mascarene Islands. The capital is Port Louis.
Mauritius lies about 500 miles (800 km) east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Its outlying territories are Rodrigues Island, situated about 340 miles (550 km) eastward, the Cargados Carajos Shoals, 250 miles (400 km) northeastward, and the Agalega Islands, 580 miles (930 km) northward from the main island. Mauritius also claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago (including Diego Garcia), some 1,250 miles (2,000 km) to the northeast, although this claim is disputed by Britain.
1978 - First post-independence president, Moktar Daddah, is deposed in a military coup, prompted partly by pressure of Polisario campaign.
1979 - Mauritania signs a peace agreement with the Polisario front and renounces its claim to Western Sahara. Morocco annexes Mauritania's former share of the territory.
1984 - Coup brings Colonel Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya to power.
1989 - Race riots erupt in Mauritania and Senegal after a border dispute. Tens of thousands of black Mauritanians are driven out of the country into Senegal. Others become the targets of attacks and land seizures. Hundreds of people are killed.
1992 - Colonel Ould Taya elected president.
1993 - US ends development aid over Mauritania's treatment of its black population and its support for Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War.
1997 - President Ould Taya re-elected in a poll boycotted by the main opposition parties.
2002 January - Opposition party Action for Change, which campaigns for greater rights for blacks and descendants of slaves, is banned.
The Libraries of ChinguettiView all photos
Situated on the bleak Adrar plateau, the city of Chinguetti contains some of the world’s most important Quranic texts amid its simple earthen libraries.
Established around 777 AD, Chinguetti became an important trading outpost on the Timbuktu caravan route to the Mediterranean. At the same time it became a gathering place for Islamic pilgrims on their way to Mecca. With the steady traffic of holy people through the city, a large, stone mosque was built and small libraries were founded to contain the growing number of religious texts left behind. Preserving the tradition of trading and passing down such holy writings, most of the original Chinguetti libraries exist in largely the same state as when they were deposited.
Today there are five such libraries left in Chinguetti containing some 1,300 Quranic manuscripts, as well as civil records including contracts, bills of sale, and legal judgments. The dry desert air and dedication of generations of custodians have helped preserve the fragile parchments, often rolled inside bamboo tubes.
On occasion, the crumbling texts are gingerly inspected by scholars who still visit the site to study Islamic Law. Preservationists have attempted to relocate the collections or set up restoration programs locally, but the libraries’ private owners resist. UNESCO has awarded Chinguetti and other nearby ancient settlements World Heritage status, and efforts are being made to save the city and its libraries from neglect.
Know Before You Go
Mauritania's tourism has dwindled in recent years but once you get to Atar, it's relatively easy to organize the ride to Chingeutti, where there are several tourist lodgings. Your hosts will be able to help you make a visit to the one library, which is commonly visited by tour groups.
‘The Mauritanian’ Review: A Tale of Truth-Seeking
Tahar Rahim and Jodie Foster star in this dogged, uninvolving drama based on the story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi.
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The most enjoyable moments of the Guantánamo drama “The Mauritanian” occur during the end credits as the film’s real-life subject, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, listens to a Bob Dylan song. Laughing delightedly and singing along, he’s the picture of contentment — not of someone who just spent more than 14 years in an infamous American prison.
That extraordinary resilience will, if you’re lucky, be your most vivid takeaway from this dogged and punishing tale of torture and truth-seeking. Trapped for the most part in featureless rooms, a stellar cast — including Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch and Shailene Woodley — deliver dull speeches and sift through redacted documents, brows furrowed and lips compressed. In parallel scenes, Slahi (an exceptional Tahar Rahim), arrested after the Sept. 11 attacks because of connections to Al Qaeda, endures the kind of abuse and deprivation that multiple movies and television shows have rendered all too familiar.
Directed by Kevin Macdonald and based on Slahi’s 2015 memoir, the story focuses mainly on the efforts of the defense lawyer Nancy Hollander (Foster) to obtain a hearing for Slahi and, hopefully, his release. She’s more hindered than helped in this endeavor by a junior associate, Teri Duncan (Woodley), who’s written with a gullibility that borders on unprofessional.
“We know that you’re innocent!” Teri blurts out during an interview with their client, undermining the movie’s emphasis on the universal right to due process. Flavorless characters and a blizzard of flashbacks further repel our involvement in a drama whose timing, to say the least, is unfortunate. After weathering almost five years of rolling political scandals, American audiences could be less than eager to be reminded of one more.
Rated R for torture, including sexual assault. Running time: 2 hours 9 minutes. In theaters. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.
Morocco — History and Culture
Morocco, as with most African countries, had a complicated and sometimes turbulent history. Throughout the centuries, many different groups have left their mark on the land, the effects of which can be clearly seen in the diverse culture.
The Berber Kingdom of Mauretania spanned what is now northern Morocco, is the earliest known state. Soon after this settlement in the seventh century, the Umayyad Muslims conquered the area and changed the country’s character forever.
The Umayyad Muslims brought with them language, religion and government and can be credited for the strong Arabic influence today. The first Moroccan Muslim State existed during the Islamic era and was called the Kingdom of Nekor.
After centuries of Islamic rule, the region was designated a protectorate in 1912. This would alter the landscape of Morocco dramatically and also accounts for the strong French heritage evident in culture and politics. The French were harsh rulers, denying locals basic human rights in their own land.
With the wave of decolonization in Africa during the 1950’s, this began to change. Nationalist groups gained strength and embarked on a powerful resistance movement. After 44 years of occupation, Morocco finally gained independence in 1956.
King Mohammed VI took the throne in 1999 and instituted several economic and political changes in order to open up the country and improve conditions. Today, poverty is rife, but King Mohammed VI continues to try to attract foreign investment, taking full advantage of the booming tourism industry.
Morocco’s culture is as diverse as its landscape, but in the midst of great ethnic diversity the country has managed to maintain unity. A mixture of Arabic, Roman, French, Spanish and South African influences, somehow a perfect balance between old and new has been struck.
Moroccan cuisine differs from region to region, but each area reflects a bit of the cultures which make up the country. The Berber influences are most prominent in the range of spices used. The great love of grains like couscous is an indication of the country’s African roots, while the use of fresh fruits and vegetables comes directly from the country’s proximity to the Mediterranean.
Moroccan music is a delightful amalgamation with many traditional instruments bearing the mark of other regions. The flute and variations thereof like the shwam and the zither are popular in most areas and can be heard in many folk songs and dances.
Ships anchor cable chain link with stud.
Before the invention of anchor chain ships used hemp rope, which often broke and put lives in danger. As the size of ships increased hemp rope anchor cables were not strong enough, and in hot climates the fumes from wet and contaminated rope caused much sickness and even death. In 1808 Samuel Brown, a Naval Leutenant, fitted out a Navy vessel, the 'Penelope' with chain anchor cables and rigging and sailed her to the West Indies to prove the superiority of iron chain. In 1818 he and his cousin Samuel Lenox established a chainworks at Pontypridd. Their chains were made much stronger by the invention of the stud, patented in 1819 by Brown and Philip Thomas, foreman of the chain-shop. Brown Lenox made all the Royal Navy's anchor chains until 1916, as well as chain for great liners such as the Mauretania and Aquitania, and the launching chain for the Great Eastern shown in the famous photograph of I.K. Brunel. The last liner equipped with chain made at Pontypridd was the QE2 but this type of chain is still used by ships all over the world.
Before the invention of anchor chain ships used hemp rope, which often broke and put lives in danger.
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Mauritania's 'wife-fattening' farm
A generation ago, over a third of women in the country were force-fed as children - Mauritania is one of the few African countries where, on average, girls receive more food than boys.
Now only around one in 10 girls are treated this way. The treatment has its roots in fat being seen as a sign of wealth - if a girl was thin she was considered poor, and would not be respected.
But in rural Mauritania you still see the rotund women that the country is famous for. They walk slowly, dainty hands on the end of dimpled arms, pinching multicoloured swathes of fabric together to keep the biting sand from their faces.
"I make them eat lots of dates, lots and lots of couscous and other fattening food," Fatematou, a voluminous woman in her sixties who runs a kind of "fat farm" in the northern desert town of Atar, told BBC World Service's The World Today programme.
"I make them eat and eat and eat. And then drink lots and lots of water," she explained.
"I make them do this all morning. Then they have a rest. In the afternoon we start again. We do this three times a day - the morning, the afternoon and the evening."
She said the girls could end up weighing between 60 to 100 kilograms, "with lots of layers of fat."
"They punish the girls and in the end the girls eat," she said.
"If a girl refuses we start nicely, saying 'come on, come on' sweetly, until she agrees to eat."
Fatematou admitted that sometimes the girls cried at the treatment.
"Of course they cry - they scream," she said.
"We grab them and we force them to eat. If they cry a lot we leave them sometimes for a day or two and then we come back to start again.
"They get used to it in the end."
She argued that in the end the girls were grateful.
"When they are small they don't understand, but when they grow up they are fat and beautiful," she said.
"They are proud and show off their good size to make men dribble. Don't you think that's good?"
However, the view that a fat girl is more desirable is now becoming seen as old-fashioned.
A study by the Mauritanian ministry of health has found that force-feeding is dying out. Now only 11% of young girls are force fed.
"Traditionally a fat wife was a symbol of wealth. Now we've got another vision, another criteria for beauty.
"Young people in Mauritania today, we're not interested in being fat as a symbol of beauty. Today to be beautiful is to be natural, just to eat normally."
Some men are also much less keen on having a fat wife - a reflection of changes in Mauritanian society.
"We're fed up of fat women here," said 19-year-old shop owner Yusuf.
"Always fat women! Now we want thin women.
"In Mauritania if a woman really wants to get married I think she should stay thin. If she gets fat it's not good.
"Some girls have asked me whether they should get fat or stay thin. I tell them if you want to find a man, a European or a Mauritanian, stay thin, it's better for you. But some blokes still like them fat."
And while there still men who like their women big, Fatematou is on hand to fatten them up with her years of experience.
I asked her if she ever felt cruel, beating and force feeding children?
"No! It's not cruel to make girls fat!" she said.
"Me, I've seen 10-year old girls give birth. I tell you, 10 years old!
"Once they are fat and beautiful they can serve their men well, once they are fat they can be married."
Mauritania Links - History
The city of Nouadhibou (Arabic: نواذيبو) is the second largest city in Mauritania and serves as the country's commercial center.It is famous for being the location of one of the largest ship graveyard in the world. Hundreds of rusting ships can be seen all around, in the water, and on beaches.
One of the most commonly read explanation for that situation is that Mauritanian harbor officers were taking bribes and allowing ships to be discarded in the harbor and around the bay.
This phenomenon started in the 80's after the nationalization of the Mauritanian fishing industry, numerous uneconomical ships were simply abandoned there. I'm guessing that foreign ship owners later found very convenient to get rid of their old vessels in the bay.
My feeling balances between anger and amazement by the sight of those rusted skeletons Amazement for the dreamy vision, anger for the ecological and social disaster.
pictures sources : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
text source : 1 2 3
very nice pictures. specially the first one.
la première image me fait complètement flipper..
That is the sadest sight.Those boats could have been refitted and mad into a useful vessel. ben2go
@ Ben2go. It is very sad indeed. Not sure if the boats could have been saved, they ended up here probably because they were to old to be profitable.
sad that recycling them as scrap metal isn't seen as profitable and that leaving them to rust away is considered the acceptable solution..
looking forward to the next posting!
Love your site, not had an update for a while. Hope everything is ok. Look forward to more posts, matt
I am unclear as to whether these ships were drained of any toxic chemicals, oil etc, before being left here. If they were, why is this a hazard? And if they were drained, why did they not sink them to create new underwater habitats for marine life? If they were not drained. who in their country would be accountable for such a travesty to the environment?
Why is it an ecological disaster? At least their not out polluting the ocean air or spilling contents into the ocean. I'm sure they were stripped before abandoned so some little fishies probably made nice little homes inside the hulls of some.
If those boats were worth anything, no one would have scuttled them. (Trust me, fishing companies will convert anything if they think they can make a buck.) The locals really missed the boat so to speak. 3 years ago when the price of scrap was 90 dollars a ton, they could have made some cash. The ships would have been bridges and skyscrapers in China.
the real shame is, i served on one of those vessels and i know it is still contaminated with radioactive wastes, no one will break it because they can't clean it up. and mr. owl, many of these ships CAN be profitably scrapped for steel and iron, but nobody really cares.
Just posted a blog post about this site. Great Stuff I will be following. http://www.creatingitchy.com/2009/03/abandoned-man-made-creations-artificial.html
It would be really nice to know the history of those ships.
interesting rust/red colored flora (is that what it is?) that matches the ship's rust colors.
The Almoravids/al-Murabitun (1040–1147)
The Almoravids, or al-Murabitun as they called themselves, were an Islamic Berber dynasty that established an empire in Morocco and eventually took it over a wide region of Northwest Africa including modern Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, and part of Algeria. The emprire stretched as far south as modern Senegal and as far north as the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain and Portugal). The Almoravids aimed to spread the Islamic traditions throughout Northern Africa and Al-Andalus which was Islamic Spain at the time.
The dynasty was initiated and first led by Yahya ibn Ibrahim from the Lamtuna tribe of the Sahara in 1040. Upon his return from a pilgrimage to Mecca with a missionary called Abdallah ibn Yasin, where he learned about the orthodox traditions of Islam (Sunnah), Yahya tried to preach that knowledge to his tribe but was opposed and forced to leave to the Saharan regions where he began to gather followers.
Yahya died in the same year and ibn Yasin was expelled from the Gudala tribe due to his extreme beliefs and punishments, but he was received more favorably in Lamtuna. Together with the help of Lamtuna chieftain Abu Bakr ibn Umar and viceroy Yusuf ibn Tashufin, they began to spread their religious ways around the Saharan desert region and took control of the entire western desert trade route. By 1062 they had conquered Morocco, Mauretania, and the Western Sahara where they established the city of Marrakech as their new capital.
In 1086 Ibn Tashufin was called on by Muslim leaders in southern Iberia to aid in repelling the Christian armies of Northern Spain. Although he was victorious in the same year over Alfonso VI, king of Leon and Castile, ibn Tashufin left to settle some troubles in Africa and returned in 1090 when the Almoravids assumed control over Muslim Spain. By the year 1094, ibn Tashufin had taken control over almost all of what is now Spain and Portugal and three years later, in 1097, he assumed the title of Amir al Muslimin which translates to commander of the Muslims. When he finally passed away in 1106, he was allegedly one hundred years old.
Although the empire had a few more victories under ibn Tashufin’s successor, Tamim Al Yusuf, including the Battle of Ucles in 1108 and the Battle of Fraga in 1134, the dynasty began to decline after its peak during ibn Tashufin’s reign. The dynasty finally came to an end in 1147 after Ali ibn Yusuf, grandson of Al Yusuf and the then-current leader, was killed while trying to escape Marrakech after a defeat in battle with the Almohads, a newly rising Berber Muslim movement.