My last week in Nouakchott has begun. Behind me lie eventful weeks and I had already mentally prepared myself, so I must confess, that my results were fixed and final. Well, that should turn out to be a hasty conclusion in several respects. A long planned interview with the Mauritanian human rights activist Seniya Yarah Allah could be realized. Similar to Balla Touré, it is the perspective of decades of work and the highlighting of social and political grievances in Bilad Shinqit that make such an interview so contentful. The interview with the rapper, founder of Assalamalekoum Cultures and Zaza Productions and organizer of the Assalamalekoum Festival and Womens Independence Festival, my boss Monza Limam Kane, was also planned for a long time and yet was realized so late. Here it was, among other things, the representation of the development of hip hop in Mauritania, which I think is very relevant for my research. Monza also spoke very openly about Mauritanian artists \”in exile.\” Another interview with Adnan Abdou,was mainly about the political importance of religion in Mauritania, certainly one of the biggest taboo topics. Abdou, who lives in the United States, spoke very openly about the society. He is privileged to do so.
I am happy to have now, after all these weeks, interviewed perhaps the country's best-known rapper, Hamzo Bryn. After the first two weeks of my stay, there was practically no contact. It was maybe the info that I'm leaving on Saturday that releases new impulses in some people. I was able to talk very openly with the Bidhan Hamzo about society and politics on several occasions. For the interview, however, we agreed to leave out some topics. In the end, I was able to gain some insights in that interview into society through the topic of social media. Another option also presented itself. While working on my music video, I met a dancer who connected me with an influencer. With him, in turn, I very spontaneously visited the manager of Adviser, a Mauritanian Fulani who is perhaps the most famous Fulani rapper around. Adviser agreed to an interview, but let's see what can be realized.
I was shocked to discover that my partner at the beginning of the research, Fatih, had traveled to Mexico in order to enter the USA illegally from there. He had mentioning traveling to Senegal. I also learned that the rapper Boss HMD, whom I interviewed, is planning or already doing the same. These very spontaneous, expensive, and extremely dangerous trips can mean several things after all: a maximum level of desperation due to the situation in Mauritania, as well as unrealistic ideas of what awaits them in the supposed promised land. Many complain about life in Mauritania, some draw consequences, but not all Mauritanians have the same preconditions. The conditions of two English-speaking Bidhan medical graduates that I know, who are living in the affluent quartier of Tevragh Zeina, are arguably much better than those of Fatih and Boss (Fulani and Haratin), who have no education, no degree, and no knowledge of the language of the country they have in mind. I don't think expatriates are particularly well regarded in Mauritania, at least not by everyone. When Diam Min Tekky or Ewlad LeBlad applied for asylum in Canada or Belgium on the grounds of political persecution, some called it \”playing the race card.\” Hamzo, for instance, told me that he too could have easily been granted asylum after the video scandal with Leila Moulay in 2013, because in fact there were death threats against both of them from the Salafist side. But he decided to stay, and he says that not without pride.
It's these little bits of information on the side that keep reminding me of where I am and the privileges I have as a toubab. I will get on a plane on Saturday and continue my life in Germany. I will not have to pay a trafficker or support a criminal organization for doing so. I will speak the local language and people will be waiting for me. Most Mauritanians do not have these privileges.
For the sake of completeness: Not much has happened in the internship. The whole organization is at a standstill. I am currently working on putting together the festival video.