Chinguetti; Part One

A small town in the rugged interior of Mauritania, an ancient site renowned for its libraries and a caravan trading town for well over a thousand years.

Ambient recording

Nearly every night, one can hear a distant drumming and chanting. I stumble out in the dark to discover the source. In a crumbling courtyard across the wadi in the old section of town, fifteen men are gathered. This is called “Medh” – or chanting for the Prophet Mohammad. Two men are leading the songs, but everyone is joined in the chanting. There are a few woman present, and the occasionally join in with the shrill cry as they mingle in the background, preparing tea. In Chinguetti, this occurs almost every night, and I am to understand that it is performed exclusively by the “black” Moor.

Medh from a distance

Medh 1

Medh 2

One afternoon I meet with Mama Dimi Mint, a performer in Moudou ould Mattalla group. I come along with the guitar, and bring a trail of children with me. On the tapi (straw mat), a mass of children, boys and girls at their respective sides, play tbal (a shallow drum that looks like a bowl covered with a skin), clap, sing, and bang on whatever else they can find.

Mama Dimi Mint and kids 1

Mama Dimi Mint and kids 2

Mama Dimi Mint and kids 3

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