2 July 2018

Mauritania: In Nouakchott, Madiba's Road Less Travelled

Photo: @PresidencyZA/Twitter
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, with President Mohamed Abdel Aziz of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and African Union Chairperson President Paul Kagame, officiating the Inauguration of Nelson Mandela Avenue in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

From July 2018, one of the major roads in Nouakchott, the desert capital of Mauritania, will bear the name of former president Nelson Mandela. The centenary of his birth is a timely reminder to the world of the values he fought for.

Even at 8am the mercury is pushing 30 degrees Celsius in the sandy streets of Nouakchott, which are still being resurfaced with fresh black tar, even on the last day of the 31stAfrican Union summit which had been in town.

Mauritania, population 4.5 million, is wide open country and desert, straddling north and sub-Saharan Africa. Pan-Africanists like Samia Nkrumah often bemoan the fact that a distinction is made between the two Africas at all. Mauritania is a beautiful cultural mixture of both.

On a large open space in front of a pretty foreign affairs building, on the corner with Moktar Ould Daddah Avenue, is an open marquee with the sand and soil and paving covered completely in...

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