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Mauritania: A Rich Culture of Games, Dance and Music

Mauritania lies at the point where Arab and African cultures meet; it is the link between the countries of North and West Africa. This has given it a special character, with its wonderful ethnic diversity reflected in its unique culture. This is evident in Mauritania's rich tradition of games, dances and music, encapsulating the marriage between Arab and African cultures. In this post we will show you some examples.

The game of “Anigur”

The game of “Anigur” or “pin play” is one of the best-known traditional Mauritanian games, which simulates a duel with swords, but using sticks. There are no victims; the game ends with no winners or losers, as the point is solely to entertain. While the “competitors” duel, women play drums and ululate to encourage them.

Usually the game is set up between two competitors with sticks, but one may duel with two or three according to his experience and strength. The “Anigur” player is considered to be an important person that people flock to invite to special occasions, although he does not earn money from this.

This game is also part of Mauritanian wedding celebrations and official ceremonies; it's a part of the people's psyche and takes an important place amongst popular Mauritanian games.

The following video shows two men playing “Anigur”, while women around them clap to encourage them:

Dancing to the “Nifara”

The “nifara” – the Mauritanian flute – is a musical instrument close to people's hearts; dancing to it is popular amongst young Mauritanians. The dancers use their skills to match its melodies, and dance expressively in a theatrical style. As the enthusiasm in the audience grows, they ululate and clap.

In this video you can see some young Mauritanians dancing to nifara tunes:

Dimi Mint Abba

Finally we come to the legend of Mauritanian music, Dimi Mint Abba; in the following video she sings a traditional song accompanied by the beautiful instrument, the “ardin” [similar to the "kora"].

Dimi was a traditional Mauritanian singer, who was born in the Tagant Region and rose to fame in the 1970s. Her voice was able to transcend the borders of her country to reach the rest of Africa and some Arab countries. It was a source of enjoyment for millions of Mauritanians for decades.

She began her career at the beginning of the 1970s, and represented her country in an Arab singing competition in Tunis in 1976.

Dimi Mint Abba died on June 4, 2011, and the news was a thunderbolt for Mauritanians. There was an outpouring of grief all over the country.

Thumbnail and featured image show Dimi Mint Abba at the Festival au Desert 2004 in Essakane, Mali. Image by CultrVultr on Flickr.

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